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Cell fate decisions: emerging roles for metabolic signals and cell morphology.


Understanding how cell fate decisions are regulated is a fundamental goal of developmental and stem cell biology. Most studies on the control of cell fate decisions address the contributions of changes in transcriptional programming, epigenetic modifications, and biochemical differentiation cues. However, recent studies have found that other aspects of cell biology also make important contributions to regulating cell fate decisions. These cues can have a permissive or instructive role and are integrated into the larger network of signaling, functioning both upstream and downstream of developmental signaling pathways. Here, we summarize recent insights into how cell fate decisions are influenced by four aspects of cell biology: metabolism, reactive oxygen species (ROS), intracellular pH (pHi), and cell morphology. For each topic, we discuss how these cell biological cues interact with each other and with protein-based mechanisms for changing gene transcription. In addition, we highlight several questions that remain unanswered in these exciting and relatively new areas of the field.

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