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Genet, Marion and Torres-Padilla, Maria-Elena (2020): The molecular and cellular features of 2-cell-like cells: a reference guide. In: Development, Vol. 147, No. 16, dev189688

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Currently, two main cell culture models predominate pluripotent stem cell research: embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Thanks to their ability to contribute to and form all tissues within the body, ESCs and iPSCs have proven invaluable in understanding pluripotent states, early embryonic development and cell differentiation, as well as in devising strategies for regenerative medicine. Comparatively little is known about totipotency - a cellular state with greater developmental potential. In mice, only the zygote and the blastomeres of the 2-cell-stage embryo are truly totipotent, as they alone can develop to form the embryo and all of its supportive extra-embryonic tissues. However, the discovery of a rare subpopulation of cells in murine ESC cultures, possessing features of 2-cell embryo blastomeres and expanded cell fate potential, has provided a biochemically tractable model to enable the in vitro study of totipotency. Here, we summarize current known features of these 2-cell-like cells (2CLCs) in an effort to provide a reference for the community, and to clarify what we know about their identity so far.

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