Cells of multicellular organisms have diverse characteristics despite having the same genetic identity. The distinctive phenotype of each cell is determined by molecular mechanisms such as epigenetic changes that occur throughout the lifetime of an individual. Recently, technologies that enable modification of the fate of somatic cells have been developed, and the number of studies using these technologies has increased drastically in the last decade. Various cell types, including neuronal cells, cardiomyocytes, and hepatocytes, have been generated using these technologies. Although most direct reprogramming methods employ forced transduction of a defined sets of transcription factors to reprogram cells in a manner similar to induced pluripotent cell technology, many other strategies, such as methods utilizing chemical compounds and microRNAs to change the fate of somatic cells, have also been developed. In this review, we summarize transcription factor-based reprogramming and various other reprogramming methods. Additionally, we describe the various industrial applications of direct reprogramming technologies.
Bone is a critically important part of the skeletal system that is essential for body support and locomotion. The immune system protects against pathogens and is active in host defense. These two seemingly distinct systems in fact interact with each other, share molecules and create a collaborative regulatory system called the “osteoimmune system”. The most representative osteoimmune molecule is receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL), which plays multiple roles in the osteoimmune system under both physiological and pathological conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and cancer metastasis to bone. Based on accumulating evidence for such mutual dependence, it is concluded that the relationship between bone and the immune system did not develop by accident but as a necessary consequence of evolution. Here I describe the history of and recent advances in osteoimmunology, providing a perspective in the contexts of both science and medicine.