Stem cells derived from adult tissues may be less able to differentiate into different tissues than those derived from embryos, because adult cells appear to retain an "epigenetic memory" of the cell type from which they were derived, according to two mouse studies published this week in Nature journals.
An iPSC colony
Image: Jose M. Polo and
Konrad Hochedlinger
The papers show that induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) "are not truly similar to [embryonic stem cells] when examined at a high resolution," cell biologist Mahendra Rao of linkurl:Life Technologies; in California, who was not involved in the research, told The Scientist in an email. iPSCs' lack of flexibility appears to stem from differences in how their DNA is methylated. iPSCs are often created by infusing adult tissues with genetic factors that make the cells regress in their development to an embryonic-like state, capable of differentiating into any of the many...
NatureNature BiotechnologyK. Kim, et al., "Epigenetic memory in induced pluripotent stem cells," Nature AOP, DOI: 10.1038/nature09342, 2010. J.M. Polo, et al., "Cell type of origin influences the molecular and functional properties of mouse induce pluripotent stem cells," Nature Biotechnology AOP, DOI: 10.1038/nbt1667, 2010.Correction: This article has been updated from its original version to note that iPSCs retain an "epigenetic memory," not a "genetic memory." regrets the error.

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