© 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Telomerase expression in humans is restricted to different populations of stem and progenitor cells, being silenced in most somatic tissues. Efficient telomere homeostasis is essential for embryonic and adult stem cell function and therefore essential for tissue homeostasis throughout organismal life. Accordingly, the mutations in telomerase culminate in reduced stem cell function both in vivo and in vitro and have been associated with tissue dysfunction in human patients. Despite the importance of telomerase for stem cell biology, the mechanisms behind telomerase regulation during development are still poorly understood, mostly due to difficulties in acquiring and maintaining pluripotent stem cell populations in culture. In this chapter, we will analyze recent developments in this field, including the importance of efficient telomere homeostasis in different stem cell types and the role of telomerase in different techniques used for cellular reprogramming.