Challenging the totipotency of a zygote

Although the literature describes the mammalian zygote as a totipotent cell, one researcher challenges this view and has proposed a revised alternative model of mammalian cellular totipotency. The basis for this new model and its implications and potential applications are presented in an article published in Stem Cells and Development.

“On Mammalian Totipotency—What Is the Molecular Underpinning for the Totipotency of a Zygote?” is the work of Kejin Hu, Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Hu explores the concept of a totipotency—the ability of a stem cell to give rise to any cell type or a blastomere to form a complete embryo—from a molecular perspective. He defines three main aspects of totipotency: genetic, epigenetic, and biochemical (the capacity to be reprogrammed to epigenetic totipotency). While a zygote is genetically totipotent, it is not epigenetically totipotent. It does, however, have the capacity for reprogramming to a totipotent state. Based on these conclusions, Dr. Hu developed his revised model for the capacity for cellular totipotency.

Stem Cells and Development values a continuing and evolving discourse on this fascinating and contentious topic,” says Editor-in-Chief Graham C. Parker, Ph.D., The Carman and Ann Adams Department of Pediatrics, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI.

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