Heidelberg researchers have been delving into the basic regulatory mechanisms of stem cell differentiation. Using the Drosophila melanogaster fruit fly as a model organism, the team led by Prof. Dr. Ingrid Lohmann at Heidelberg University's Centre for Organismal Studies was able to show how a special developmental gene from the Hox family influences germline stem cells. These cells are responsible for sperm formation.
Confocal image of a Drosophila testis that shows the localisation of the Abd-B Hox protein (green). Abd-B is essential for the positioning and function of the stem cell niche.
Ingrid Lohmann, COS, Heidelberg University
The scientists, working in the “Maintenance and Differentiation of Stem Cells in Development and Disease” Collaborative Research Centre (CRC 873), found that impairment of Hox gene function resulted in prematurely aged sperms.
As “immature” somatic cells, stem cells can mature into different types of cells, thus making them responsible for the development of all the tissues and organs in the body. They are also able to repair damaged adult cells. “Advancements in medical research have shown that stem cells can be used to treat certain diseases.
To fulfil the promise of stem cell therapy, it is important to discover the function of the respective stem cells and understand how they interact with their environment, that is, the surrounding cells and tissues,” explains Prof. Lohmann, who heads the Developmental Biology research group at the Centre for Organismal Studies (COS).
This microenvironment, which stabilises and regulates stem cell activity, is called a stem cell niche. The Heidelberg research team investigated the niches in the testis of the fruit fly. The germline stem cells there produce daughter cells that develop into mature sperms. “In our studies, we wanted to find out the nature, if any, of the relationship between germline stem cells and the gene Abd-B,” states Prof. Lohmann, who further explains that Abd-B belongs to a family of developmental genes referred to as Hox genes. These Hox genes control the activity of a multitude of other genes that are responsible for the early development of an organism.
According to the team’s research, the Abd-B gene is critical to niche function in the Drosophila testis. If Abd-B is mutated, the niche – and the stem cells located there – lose their position in the testis. This damages their function, which in turn causes the germline stem cells to divide incorrectly. In the fruit flies studied, this caused the formation of prematurely aged sperm. “Our new knowledge of the function of Abd-B helps us to better understand how these processes are regulated in higher organisms, including vertebrates,” explains Ingrid Lohmann.
In CRC 873, funded by the German Research Foundation, medical and biological scientists investigate the basic regulatory mechanisms that control the self-renewal and differentiation of stem cells. Different model organisms like the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster are used for their research, aimed at decoding the principles of stem cell control with the aim to also apply them to higher forms of life and eventually humans. The research results of Prof. Lohmann and her team were published in the journal “Developmental Cell”.Original publication:
Marietta Fuhrmann-Koch | idw
Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel
The Nagoya Protocol Creates Disadvantages for Many Countries when Applied to Microorganisms
05.12.2016 | Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering