Stem Cells International
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Just over ten years have passed since the seminal Takahashi-Yamanaka paper, and while most attention nowadays is on induced, embryonic, and cancer stem cells, much of the pioneering work arose from studies with embryonal carcinoma cells (ECCs) derived from teratocarcinomas. This original work was broad in scope, but eventually led the way for us to focus on the components involved in the gene regulation of stemness and differentiation. As the name implies, ECCs are malignant in nature, yet maintain the ability to differentiate into the 3 germ layers and extraembryonic tissues, as well as behave normally when reintroduced into a healthy blastocyst. Retinoic acid signaling has been thoroughly interrogated in ECCs, especially in the F9 and P19 murine cell models, and while we have touched on this aspect, this review purposely highlights how some key transcription factors regulate pluripotency and cell stemness prior to this signaling. Another major focus is on the epigenetic regulation of ECCs and stem cells, and, towards that end, this review closes on what we see as a new frontier in combating aging and human disease, namely, how cellular metabolism shapes the epigenetic landscape and hence the pluripotency of all stem cells.