Transflammation: Innate immune signaling in nuclear reprogramming
Induction of pluripotency in somatic cells by retroviral overexpression of four transcription factors has revolutionized the field of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. The efficient induction of pluripotency requires the activation of innate immune signaling in a process termed “transflammation” (Lee et al., 2012). Specifically, the stimulation of pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) causes global alterations in the expression and activity of epigenetic modifiers to favor an open chromatin configuration. Activation of toll-like receptors (TLR) or RIG-1-like receptors (RLR) (Sayed et al. 2017) trigger signaling cascades that result in NFκB or IRF-3 mediated changes in epigenetic plasticity that facilitate reprogramming. Another form of nuclear reprogramming is so-called direct reprogramming or transdifferentiation of one somatic cell to another lineage. We have shown that transdifferentiation of human fibroblasts to endothelial cells also involves transflammation (Sayed et al., 2015). Recently, we also identified reactive oxygen species (ROS) (Zhou et al. 2016) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) (Meng et al., 2016) as mediators of innate immune signaling in nuclear reprogramming. Innate immune signaling plays a key role in nuclear reprogramming by regulating DNA accessibility (Fig. 1). Here, we review recent progress of innate immunity signaling in nuclear reprogramming and epigenetic plasticity.