Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


The aging stem cell

The discovery that secreted protein Ecrg4 slows neural precursor cell division during aging could point the way to treatments for age-related diseases

Stem cells and precursor cells can proliferate to repopulate damaged tissues. During aging, however, these cells lose their ability to divide—a process that is called senescence.

Now, a team of researchers led by Toru Kondo at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, Kobe, has identified esophageal cancer-related gene 4 (Ecrg4) as being responsible for senescence of precursor cells in the central nervous system during aging1. This finding could explain why neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, are prevalent in elderly individuals.

Addition of serum to oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) in culture drives them toward a senescent phenotype, making them an ideal model system to study genes that induce senescence. Kondo and colleagues looked at changes in gene expression during induction of senescence in mouse OPCs and found that the expression of Ecrg4 increased the most in senescent OPCs.

When the researchers overexpressed Ecrg4 in rat OPCs, this arrested the cell cycle, and increased the proportion of cells that were labeled by a marker of cell senescence. The protein Ecrg4 seemed to act by inducing the degradation of proteins called cyclins, which drive cell cycle progression. When they reduced Ecrg4 expression, it blocked the induction of OPC senescence that is normally induced by serum.

In the culture medium of OPCs that were already senescent, Kondo and colleagues found that Ecrg4 protein was present. Administering recombinant Ecrg4 protein onto OPCs in culture also induced senescence, suggesting that Ecrg4 is a secreted protein that drives OPC senescence.

They also observed that Ecrg4 was highly expressed in the brains of old—but not young—mice, in brain regions rich with neural precursor cells and OPCs. Further, they found that the cells expressing Ecrg4 in the aging brain were not proliferating. In fact, Ecrg4-expressing cells in the aging brain seemed to be senescent, since they were co-labeled with a senescence marker. “An important next step in this research,” says Kondo, “is to make Ecrg4 knockout mice to examine the functions of Ecrg4 in vivo.”

Identifying factors that drive neural precursor cell senescence may one day lead to therapies that can kick-start their proliferation that has stalled during aging, which could help restore neuronal loss in diseases such as stroke or Parkinson's disease. “Our findings provide a new clue to investigate the mechanism of brain aging,” explains Kondo, “and may lead to the development of new methods to prevent aging and age-related diseases.”

The corresponding author for this highlight is based at the Laboratory for Cell Lineage Modulation, RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology

Journal information

Kujuro, Y., Suzuki, N. & Kondo, T. Esophageal cancer-related gene 4 is a secreted inducer of cell senescence expressed by aged CNS precursor cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 107, 8259–8264 (2010)

gro-pr | Research asia research news
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Enormous dome in central Andes driven by huge magma body beneath it

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Deep down fracking wells, microbial communities thrive

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>