Editors' ChoiceDevelopmental Biology

Epigenetics Direct Transdifferentiation

Science Signaling  19 Aug 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 339, pp. ec222
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005804

To make an entire animal, many and varied cell types form and interact. Some of these differentiated cells take a U-turn and can dedifferentiate or transdifferentiate to another cell fate. Although relatively rare in nature, Zuryn et al. followed such a program in the tiny roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, where a rectal cell–to–motor neuron conversion is seen. Transcription factors with conserved roles in cell plasticity and terminal fate selection partner up with specific histone-modifying enzymes in discrete steps to specify separate sequential phases of cell identity.

S. Zuryn, A. Ahier, M. Portoso, E. R. White, M.-C. Morin, R. Margueron, S. Jarriault, Sequential histone-modifying activities determine the robustness of transdifferentiation. Science 345, 826–829 (2014). [Abstract] [Full Text]