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Open Access Review

Pluripotency and its layers of complexity

Jolene Ooi12 and Pentao Liu1*

Author Affiliations

1 Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Hinxton, CB10 1SA, UK

2 Technology and Research, Agency for Science, 1 Fusionopolis Way, #20-10, Connexis North Tower, 138632, Singapore

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Cell Regeneration 2012, 1:7  doi:10.1186/2045-9769-1-7

Published: 14 September 2012

Abstract

Pluripotency is depicted by a self-renewing state that can competently differentiate to form the three germ layers. Different stages of early murine development can be captured on a petri dish, delineating a spectrum of pluripotent states, ranging from embryonic stem cells, embryonic germ cells to epiblast stem cells. Anomalous cell populations displaying signs of pluripotency have also been uncovered, from the isolation of embryonic carcinoma cells to the derivation of induced pluripotent stem cells. Gaining insight into the molecular circuitry within these cell types enlightens us about the significance and contribution of each stage, hence deepening our understanding of vertebrate development. In this review, we aim to describe experimental milestones that led to the understanding of embryonic development and the conception of pluripotency. We also discuss attempts at exploring the realm of pluripotency with the identification of pluripotent stem cells within mouse teratocarcinomas and embryos, and the generation of pluripotent cells through nuclear reprogramming. In conclusion, we illustrate pluripotent cells derived from other organisms, including human derivatives, and describe current paradigms in the comprehension of human pluripotency.

Keywords:
Naïve pluripotency; Primed pluripotency; Embryonic stem cells; Induced pluripotent stem cells; Epiblast stem cells