Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New study suggests stem cells sabotage their own DNA to produce new tissues

16.02.2010
A new study from the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) and the University of Ottawa suggests that stem cells intentionally break their own DNA as a way of regulating tissue development. The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), could dramatically change how researchers think about tissue development, stem cells and cancer.

Human cells contain 46 strands of DNA that code for all our genes. Certain chemicals and UV light can break these strands into pieces, a process that has traditionally been considered a bad thing, leading to cell death or diseases such as cancer if the damage is not repaired quickly.

The new research, led by Dr. Lynn Megeney, shows for the first time that stem cells will intentionally cut and then repair their own DNA as a mechanism of activating genes that promote the development of new tissues.

The project started as an attempt to understand how stem cells give rise to new muscle fibres. In 2002, Dr. Megeney and his team discovered that this process of producing new muscle was somehow connected to another important process called programmed cell death, which the body uses to get rid of unwanted cells. When they blocked or removed a key death-promoting protein called caspase 3, they found that stem cells stopped producing new muscle fibres.

"This discovery was very controversial at the time, but dozens of research groups have now reported that cell death proteins control the maturation process of most stem cell types," says Dr. Megeney. "In the last few years, the big mystery has been how cell death proteins manage this complex process."

Now in the 2010 study Dr. Megeney and his team believe they have solved the mystery. They have discovered that the novel effect of caspase 3 in stem cells is related to its ability to activate another protein that cuts up the cell's DNA (called caspase-activated DNase) and has also traditionally been associated with programmed cell death. When they blocked this DNA-cutting protein, they also blocked muscle development. They also showed that when the DNA cutting occurs at a key gene known to promote muscle development, it activates that gene and induces the development of new muscle.

"Our research suggests that when a gene is damaged, it can actually increase the expression of that gene, as long as the damage is repaired quickly. This is a novel way for a gene to become activated," says Dr. Megeney. "We've shown that this process is crucial for the development of new muscle tissue, but we believe it may be important for the development of most other tissues as well."

The discovery has important implications for a number of areas. It could help researchers develop better ways to activate stem cells, so that they can produce new tissues for therapeutic purposes. It also suggests that DNA mutations, which can contribute to a variety of diseases, may initially occur as a result of a normal cellular process. And it has implications for researchers developing therapies that inhibit programmed cell death, suggesting that such therapies may also inhibit normal tissue development.

Dr. Lynn Megeney is a Senior Scientist at the OHRI's Sprott Centre for Stem Cell Research, a Professor of Medicine at the University of Ottawa and the Mach Gaensslen Chair in Cardiac Research. Other authors on the paper include Brain D. Larsen, Dr. Shravanti Rampalli, Leanne E. Burns, Steve Brunette and Dr. F. Jeffrey Dilworth. This work was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

About the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) is the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital and is an affiliated institute of the University of Ottawa, closely associated with the University's Faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences. The OHRI includes more than 1,500 scientists, clinical investigators, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff conducting research to improve the understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human disease. www.ohri.ca

Media Contact

Jennifer Paterson
Director, Communications and Public Relations
Ottwa Hospital Research Institute
613-798-5555 ext. 73325
jpaterson@ohri.ca

Jennifer Paterson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ohri.ca

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientist invents way to trigger artificial photosynthesis to clean air

26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ammonium nitrogen input increases the synthesis of anticarcinogenic compounds in broccoli

26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history

26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>