Epigenetic modifications of embryonic stem cells: current trends and relevance in developing regenerative medicine
Henry Chung, Kuldip S Sidhu
Stem Cell Lab, Faculty of Medicine, School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Abstract: Epigenetics is a growing field not only in the area of cancer research but recently in stem cells including human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research. The hallmark of profiling epigenetic changes in stem cells lies in maintaining pluripotency or multipotency and in attaining lineage specifications that are relevant for regenerative medicine. Epigenetic modifications including DNA methylation, histone acetylation and methylation, play important roles in regulating gene expressions. Other epigenetic modifications include X chromosome silencing, genomic stability and imprinting and mammalian development. This review attempts to elucidate the mechanism(s) behind epigenetic modifications and review techniques scientists use for identifying each modification. We also discuss some of the trends of epigenetic modifications in the fields of directed differentiation of embryonic stem cells and de-differentiation of somatic cells.
Keywords: epigenetics, embryonic stem cell, somatic cell nuclear transfer, DNA methylation, chromatin modifications
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