A simple code for installing hepatocyte function.
This review highlights a recent advance, the generation of hepatocytes from fibroblasts by enforced expression of key transcription factors. The potential for human liver disease therapy and modeling is discussed.
Forced lineage conversion of accessible cell types can supply scarce or inaccessible cells for research and therapy. Two papers in Nature now report the identification of transcription factors sufficient for inducing therapeutically effective hepatocyte function in fibroblasts (Huang et al., 2011; Sekiya and Suzuki, 2011).