The silver lining of induced pluripotent stem cell variation
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are being generated using various reprogramming methods and from different cell sources. Hence, a lot of effort has been devoted to evaluating the differences among iPSC lines, in particular with respect to their differentiation capacity. While line-to-line variability should mainly reflect the genetic diversity within the human population, here we review some studies that have brought attention to additional variation caused by genomic and epigenomic alterations. We discuss strategies to evaluate aberrant changes and to minimize technical and culture-induced noise, in order to generate safe cells for clinical applications. We focus on the findings from a recent study, which compared the differentiation capacity of several iPSC lines committed to the hematopoietic lineage and correlated the differential maturation capacity with aberrant DNA methylations. Although iPSC variation represents a challenge for the field, we embrace the authors’ perspective that iPSC variations should be used to our advantage for predicting and selecting the best performing iPSC lines, depending on the desired application.