The direct lineage reprogramming of one specialized cell type into another using defined factors has fundamentally re-shaped traditional concepts regarding the epigenetic stability of differentiated cells. With the rapid increase in cell types generated through direct conversion in recent years, this strategy has become a promising approach for producing functional cells. Here, we review recent advances in lineage reprogramming, including the identification of novel reprogramming factors, underlying molecular mechanisms, strategies for generating functionally mature cells, and assays for characterizing induced cells. We also discuss progress toward the application of lineage reprogramming and the major future challenges for this strategy.
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