Differentiation is the process in which unspecialised cells (also known as stem cells) change to become more specialised, therefore gaining more specific functions. Differentiation is irreversible within mammals, however it is possible to artificially transform somatic cells into induced pluripotent stem cells by changing the gene expression of the somatic cell. Differentiation plays a critical role in development as this is how a single pluripotent blastocyst can turn into every cell type in the body. Differentiation is controlled chemically with different growth factors signalling the stem cell to specialise into different cell types.
- ↑ Gurdon JB, From nuclear transfer to nuclear reprogramming: the reversal of cell differentiation.Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2006;22:1-22.