In general, it had been believed that the cell fate restriction of terminally differentiated somatic cells was irreversible. In 1952, somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) was introduced to study early embryonic development in frogs. So far, various mammalian species have been successfully cloned using the SCNT technique, though its efficiency is very low. Embryonic stem (ES) cells were the first pluripotent cells to be isolated from an embryo and have a powerful potential to differentiate into more than 260 types of cells. The generation of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells was a breakthrough in stem cell research, and the use of these iPS cells has solved problems such as low efficiency and cell fate restriction. These cells have since been used for clinical application, disease investigation, and drug selection. As it is widely accepted that the endosymbiosis of Archaea into eukaryotic ancestors resulted in the generation of eukaryotic cells, we examined whether bacterial infection could alter host cell fate. We previously showed that when human dermal fibroblast (HDF) cells were incorporated with lactic acid bacteria (LAB), the LAB-incorporated HDF cells formed clusters and expressed a subset of common pluripotent markers. Moreover, LAB-incorporated cell clusters could differentiate into cells derived from each of the three germinal layers both in vivo and in vitro, indicating successful reprogramming of host HDF cells by LAB. In the current review, we introduce the existing examples of cellular reprogramming by bacteria and discuss their nuclear reprogramming mechanisms.
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