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Transcriptomic analysis of pluripotent stem cells: insights into health and disease

Jia-Chi Yeo12 and Huck-Hui Ng12345*

Author Affiliations

1 Gene Regulation Laboratory, Genome Institute of Singapore, 60 Biopolis Street, Genome, Singapore 138672

2 School of Biological Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, 60 Nanyang Drive, Singapore 637551

3 Department of Biochemistry, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, 8 Medical Drive, Singapore 117597

4 Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, 14 Science Drive 4, Singapore 117597

5 NUS Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and Engineering, National University of Singapore, 28 Medical Drive, Singapore 117456

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Genome Medicine 2011, 3:68  doi:10.1186/gm284

Published: 27 October 2011


Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) hold tremendous clinical potential because of their ability to self-renew, and to differentiate into all cell types of the body. This unique capacity of ESCs and iPSCs to form all cell lineages is termed pluripotency. While ESCs and iPSCs are pluripotent and remarkably similar in appearance, whether iPSCs truly resemble ESCs at the molecular level is still being debated. Further research is therefore needed to resolve this issue before iPSCs may be safely applied in humans for cell therapy or regenerative medicine. Nevertheless, the use of iPSCs as an in vitro human genetic disease model has been useful in studying the molecular pathology of complex genetic diseases, as well as facilitating genetic or drug screens. Here, we review recent progress in transcriptomic approaches in the study of ESCs and iPSCs, and discuss how deregulation of these pathways may be involved in the development of disease. Finally, we address the importance of these advances for developing new therapeutics, and the future challenges facing the clinical application of ESCs and iPSCs.

Embryonic stem cells; gene expression; induced pluripotent stem cells; pluripotency; regenerative medicine; therapy; transcriptional regulation; transcriptomics