Title: Somatic Pluripotent Genes in Tissue Re- pair, Developmental Disease, and Cancer
Embryonic stem cells possess the ability to differentiate into all cell types of the body. This pliable developmental state is achieved by the function of a series of pluripotency factors, classically identified as OCT4, SOX2, and NANOG. These pluripotency factors are responsible for activating the larger pluripotency networks and the self-renewal programs which give ES cells their unique characteristics. However, during differentiation pluripotency networks become downregulated as cells achieve greater lineage specification and exit the cell cycle. Typically the repression of plu-ripotency is viewed as a positive factor to ensure the fidelity of cellular identity by restricting cellular pliancy. Consistent with this view, the expression of pluripotency factors is greatly restricted in somatic cells. However, there are examples whereby cells either maintain or reactivate pluripotency factors to preserve the increased potential for the healing of wounds or tissue homeostasis. Additionally there are many examples where these pluripotency factors become reactivated in a variety of human pathologies, particularly cancer. In this review, we will summarize the somatic repression of pluripotency factors, their role in tissue homeostasis and wound repair, and the human diseases that are associated with pluripotency factor misregulation with an emphasis on their role in the etiology of multiple cancers.