AAT Bioquest

What is the process of cell differentiation?

Posted December 15, 2023


These cells all possess identical genetic material from the original cell (that began as a fertilized egg) but then specialized into different kinds of cells in the body upon maturation. The process of cell differentiation is regulated by transcription and growth factors. These factors regulate the activation or suppression of different genes among various cell types, leading to distinct proteomes. Cell differentiation is in general dependent on alterations in gene expression. Different genes are either expressed or unexpressed through gene regulation, forming different proteins and functions for cells. Genes which remain active have the ability to undergo transcription and produce RNA for transcription later on. Stem cells are induced into different cells due to the signals they receive. These signals come from adjacent cells or external factors known as differentiation-inducing factors (e.g. certain chemical cues). Additionally, as cells undergo differentiation, they experience a gradual reduction in the activity of pluripotent genes. There is also a corresponding increase in the activity of differentiation marker genes. These changes occur due to gene-gene regulation, which forms a Gene Regulatory Network composed of differentiation and pluripotent genes. 

Additional resources

Cell Proliferation in Development and Differentiation

Stem Cell Research

Prostate Stem Cell Antigen Antibody