The discovery represents a further step in the ever-expanding field of understanding the ways in which stem cells develop into specific cells, a necessary prelude towards the use of stem cell therapy as a means to reverse the consequences of disease and disability.
The identification of the gene, known as Chd1, was made by Dr. Eran Meshorer of the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences at the Hebrew University and Adi Alajem, a Ph.D. student in his lab, along with the UCSF researchers.
Embryonic stem (ES) cells, which are primary cells derived from the early developing embryo, are capable of giving rise, according to their environment and conditions, to any cell type -- a trait known as pluripotency. It was assumed that the ES cells have a relatively high degree of open chromatin, which is thought to enable their pluripotency, a theory which awaited proof.
Chromatin, which is found in all cells, is composed of DNA and its surrounding proteins and can be found in one of two conformations: closed chromatin (heterochromatin) – when the genetic material is packed in a way that prevents the expression of the genes -- and open chromatin (euchromatin) – when chromatin is accessible to the gene expression machinery. Different cells display varying degrees of open and closed chromatin as a function of the genes required for their function.
In their current study, which was published recently in Nature magazine, the researchers from the Hebrew University and UCSF showed, using mouse ES cells, that Chd1 regulates open chromatin in ES cells. The open chromatin conformation, maintained by Chd1, enabled the expression of a wide variety of genes, leading to proper differentiation into all types of specific cells. Depletion of Chd1 in embryonic stem cells led to formation of heterochromatin (closed chromatin) and prevented the ability of the cells to generate all types of tissues.
The study, therefore, showed a proven link between open chromatin in ES cells and their pluripotency – an important finding on the road to the implementation of stem cell applications in future medical treatment.
Jerry Barach | Hebrew University
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The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
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Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
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Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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