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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22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden
The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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