BMPs functionally replace Klf4 and support efficient reprogramming of mouse fibroblasts by Oct4 alone.
Generation of induced pluripotent stem cells by defined factors has become a useful model to investigate the mechanism of reprogramming and cell fate determination. However, the precise mechanism of factor-based reprogramming remains unclear. Here, we show that Klf4 mainly acts at the initial phase of reprogramming to initiate mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition and can be functionally replaced by bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs). BMPs boosted the efficiency of Oct4/Sox2-mediated reprogramming of mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) to ∼1%. BMPs also promoted single-factor Oct4-based reprogramming of MEFs and tail tibial fibroblasts. Our studies clarify the contribution of Klf4 in reprogramming and establish Oct4 as a singular setter of pluripotency in differentiated cells.
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