Hu J, Zhao Q, Feng Y, Li N, Gu Y, Sun R, Duan L, Wu Y, Shan Z, Lei L
Patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have the potential to be useful in the treatment of human diseases. While prior studies have reported multiple methods to generate iPSCs, DNA methylation continues to limit the totipotency and reprogramming efficiency of iPSCs. Here, we first show the competency of embryonic germ cells (EGCs) as a reprogramming catalyst capable of effectively promoting reprogramming induced by four defined factors, including Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and c-Myc. Combining EGC extracts with these four factors resulted in formation of more embryonic stem cell-like colonies than did factors alone. Notably, expression of imprinted genes was higher with combined induction than with factors alone. Moreover, iPSCs derived from the combined inductors tended to have more global hypomethylation. Our research not only provides evidence that EGC extracts could activate DNA demethylation and reprogram imprinted genes, but also establishes a new way to enhance reprogramming of iPSCs, which remains a critical safety concern for potential use of iPSCs in regenerative medicine.