Periódicos Brasileiros em Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia

p. 61-68

Mountain high and valley deep: epigenetic controls of pluripotency and cell fate

Brevini, Tiziana A LPennarossa, GeorgiaManzoni, Elena F MZenobi, AlessandroGandolfi, Fulvio

All the somatic cells composing a mammalian organism are genetically identical and contain the same DNA sequence. Nevertheless, they are able to adopt a distinct commitment, differentiate in a tissue specific way and respond to developmental cues, acquiring a terminal phenotype. At the end of the differentiation process, each cell is highly specialized and committed to a distinct determined fate. This is possible thanks to tissue-specific gene expression, timely regulated by epigenetic modifications, that gradually limit cell potency to a more restricted phenotype-related expression pattern. Complex chemical modifications of DNA, RNA and associated proteins, that determine activation or silencing of certain genes are responsible for the ‘epigenetic control’ that triggers the restriction of cell pluripotency, with the acquisition of the phenotypic definition and the preservation of its stability during subsequent cell divisions. The process is however reversible and may be modified by biochemical and biological manipulation, leading to the reactivation of hypermethylated pluripotency genes and inducing cells to transit from a terminally committed state to a higher plasticity one.These epigenetic regulatory mechanisms play a key role in embryonic development since they drive phenotype definition and tissue differentiation. At the same time, they are crucial for a better understanding of pluripotency regulation and restriction, stem cell biology and tissue repair process.(AU)

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