Two unique properties of stem cells that define them are the ability to self-renew and pluripotency—the capacity to differentiate into specialized cell types. This article focuses on stem cell pluripotency and the intracellular signaling factors that maintain it. Pluripotency is defined as the property of an embryonic stem cell (ESC) that enables it to differentiate into most of the different cell types that make up the human body. Stem cells that are pluripotent are said to be in an undifferentiated state, meaning that in the presence of appropriate environmental cues, they differentiate into a specific cell type. In the early developmental phases, cells of the embryo that constitute the inner cell mass (ICM) are pluripotent and later develop into various tissue types and organ ...

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