The maintenance of pluripotency in embryonic stem cells (ESCs), its loss during lineage specification or its re-induction to generate induced pluripotent stem cells are central topics in stem cell biology. To uncover the molecular basis and the design principles of pluripotency control, a multitude of experimental, but also an increasing number of computational, studies have been published. Here, we consider recent reports that apply computational or mathematical modelling approaches to describe the regulatory processes that underlie cell fate decisions in mouse ESCs. We summarise the principles, the strengths and potentials but also the limitations of different computational strategies.
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