From clocks to dominoes: lessons on cell cycle remodelling from embryonic stem cellsMore about Open Access at the Crick
Cell division is a fundamental cellular process and the evolutionarily conserved networks that control cell division cycles adapt during development, tissue regeneration, cell de-differentiation and reprogramming, and a variety of pathological conditions. Embryonic development is a prime example of such versatility: fast, clock-like divisions hallmarking embryonic cells at early developmental stages become slower and controlled during cellular differentiation and lineage specification. In this review, we compare and contrast the unique cell cycle of mouse and human embryonic stem cells with that of early embryonic cells and of differentiated cells. We propose that embryonic stem cells provide an extraordinarily useful model system to understand cell cycle remodelling during embryonic-to-somatic transitions. We discuss how cell cycle networks help sustain embryonic stem cell pluripotency and self-renewal and how they safeguard cell identity and proper cell number in differentiated cells. Finally, we highlight the incredible diversity in cell cycle regulation within mammals and discuss the implications of studying cell cycle remodelling for understanding healthy and disease states.