Understanding the basis for multipotency, whereby stem cells and other progenitors can differentiate into certain tissues and not others, provides insights into the mechanism of cell programming in development, homeostasis, and disease. We recently reported a screen of diverse chromatin marks to obtain clues about chromatin states in the multipotent embryonic endoderm. Genetic and pharmacologic tests of certain marks’ function demonstrated that the relevant chromatin modifying factors modulate the fate choice for liver or pancreas induction in the endoderm. The information about chromatin states from embryonic studies can be used to predict lineage-specific developmental potential and chromatin modifiers to enhance particular cell fate transitions from stem cells.
CR Xu, PA Cole, DJ Meyers, J Kormish, S Dent, KS Zaret. Chromatin “prepattern” and histone modifiers in a fate choice for liver and pancreas. Science 2011; 332: 963- 6.
PMID: 21596989 DOI: 10.1126/science.1202845