Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Divide and Define: Clues to Understanding How Stem Cells Produce Different Kinds of Cells

06.05.2013
The human body contains trillions of cells, all derived from a single cell, or zygote, made by the fusion of an egg and a sperm. That single cell contains all the genetic information needed to develop into a human, and passes identical copies of that information to each new cell as it divides into the many diverse types of cells that make up a complex organism like a human being.

If each cell is genetically identical, however, how does it grow to be a skin, blood, nerve, bone or other type of cell? How do stem cells read the same genetic code but divide into very different types?


Yukiko Yamashita

The apical tip of fruitfly testis containing germline stem cells and differentiating germ cells. Copies of Y chromosome are marked with either red or blue. Using this method, the authors discovered that germline stem cells inherit specific copies of Y (and X) chromosomes.

Researchers at the University of Michigan have found the first direct evidence that cells can distinguish between seemingly identical copies of chromosomes during stem cell division, pointing to the possibility that distinct information on the chromosome copies might underlie the diversification of cell types.

Scientists in the lab of Life Sciences Institute researcher Yukiko Yamashita explained how stem cells can distinguish between two identical copies of chromosomes and distribute them to the daughter cells in a process called nonrandom chromosome segregation. They also described the genes responsible. Their work is scheduled to be published online May 5 in Nature.

"If we can figure out how and why cells are dividing this way, we might be able to get a glimpse of how we develop into a complete human, starting from a single cell," Yamashita said. "It is very basic science, but understanding fundamental biological processes always has wide-ranging implications that could be exploited in therapeutics and drug discovery."

During the cell division cycle, the mother cell duplicates its chromosomes, generating two identical sets. When the cell divides to become two cells, each cell inherits one set of chromosome copies. In many divisions, the daughter cells are identical to the mother—one skin cell becomes two, for instance.

But in a process called asymmetric division, a cell divides into two daughters that are not identical—a skin stem cell divides into another skin stem cell and a regular skin cell, for example. In that case, the genetic information within the chromosome copies remains the same, but the type of cell, or "cell fate," is different.

The Yamashita lab used stem cells from the testes of the fruit fly Drosophila to study the process of cell division.

"The Drosophila germ line stem cell can be identified at a single-cell resolution, so they are an ideal model," Yamashita said.

The stem cells cluster and are easy to identify; they divide to produce another germ line stem cell and a differentiating cell called a gonialblast, which goes on to eventually become a sperm cell.

The researchers marked the copies of each chromosome in the Drosophila stem cells as they divided. Using this method, they tracked the tendency of the X and the Y chromosome copies to move to the daughter germ line stem cell or to the gonialblast. They were able to demonstrate that copies of X and Y chromosomes (but not other chromosomes) are distinguished and delivered to the daughter cells with a striking bias.

This is the first direct evidence that cells indeed have an ability to distinguish identical copies of chromosomes and separate them in a regulated manner. This ability has been suspected and hypothesized, but never proven.

"We do not know yet why copies of X and Y chromosomes segregate nonrandomly," Yamashita said. "We think maybe specific epigenetic information is transmitted to the germ line stem cell and to the gonialblast."

The findings suggest that the information on the X and Y chromosomes that makes this division possible is primed during gametogenesis—the process of creating ovum or sperm cells—in the parents.

Many other cells throughout the body are able to divide into two different types, especially during embryonic development. Yamashita's next steps are to explore whether the nonrandom chromosome segregation seen in Drosophila is a widespread phenomenon that is shared by mammals, including humans.

Yamashita is a faculty member of the Life Sciences Institute's Center for Stem Cell Biology, where her laboratory is located and all her research is conducted. She is also an assistant professor in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology and the Cellular and Molecular Biology Program.

Swathi Yadlapalli of the Life Sciences Institute and U-M Medical School was also an author on the paper. Support for the research was provided by the National Institutes of Health, American Heart Association and MacArthur Foundation.

EDITORS: A high-resolution image is available at www.lsi.umich.edu/yamashitastemcells

Laura J. Williams | Newswise
Further information:
http://www.umich.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht What happens in the cell nucleus after fertilization
06.12.2016 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

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...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

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...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

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...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

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,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

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

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Simple processing technique could cut cost of organic PV and wearable electronics

06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

3-D printed kidney phantoms aid nuclear medicine dosing calibration

06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Robot on demand: Mobile machining of aircraft components with high precision

06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>