Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientist pursues role of possible new cell type

18.02.2003


A cell type with the potential for making the four major types of human tissue has been found in the stomach and small intestine by a Medical College of Georgia researcher.


Dr. Paul Sohal, developmental biologist at the Medical College of Georgia, is exploring the potential for a possible new cell type he’s found that is capable of making all four of the major human tissues.


A cross section through the small intestine of a chick embryo showing VENT cells giving rise to the enteric nervous system (blue cells).



These VENT cells have been found in addition to the three sources of cells typically associated with gastrointestinal development, says Dr. Paul Sohal, MCG developmental biologist, who first identified these cells nearly a decade ago.

Identification of VENT - ventrally emigrating neural tube - cells within the stomach and small intestine is another piece in Dr. Sohal’s effort to fully define and describe the cells that he first found migrating out from the neural tube of a chick embryo.


If Dr. Sohal’s studies are on target, he’s found the first source of new cells identified in the embryo since 1868 and what might be the precursor for adult stem cells.

With three National Institutes of Health grants under his belt and a slowly growing body of published evidence, including the recent finding published in the December issue of the International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, Dr. Sohal definitely believes he’s on to something.

"I have a burning desire to find out the role of VENT cells in normal development, their role in congenital malformation as well as their potential in repair and regeneration of adult tissue," he says. "It’s an issue that is constantly on my mind."

In his latest study, he labeled VENT cells while they were still in the neural tube, the structure that ultimately forms the brain and spinal cord and the place where he first saw VENT cells migrating out. The neural tube sends a nerve from the developing brain, down though the neck, lungs, heart and, eventually, to the gastrointestinal tract. He watched the labeled VENT cells migrate along the path of this vagus nerve, eventually differentiating into neurons and supporting cells of the gut’s enteric nervous system. The labeled cells also became smooth muscle cells and epithelial cells that help form the gut lining as well as interstitial cells of Cajal, which are essentially pacemaker cells that enable the gastrointestinal tract’s motility.

"The current belief is that the gastrointestinal tract develops from three sources of cells," Dr. Sohal says. The enteric nervous system, which innervates the gut, is believed to come solely from neural crest cells. Smooth muscle cells are believed to develop from the mesoderm, one of the body’s three basic germ layers laid down early in development. The epithelium, the lining of the gut that allows nutrients to be absorbed from food, comes from the endoderm, the innermost germ layer.

"What we have found is the VENT cells give rise to all these cell types," Dr. Sohal says. The finding not only questions the understanding of normal development, but also brings in new factors for consideration in developmental or acquired diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and possibly much more, he says. Examples include diseases such as Hirschsprung’s disease, in which a part of the intestines does not get its nerves during formation and consequently its motility; one out of 5,000 children is born with this disease. Also, about 1 in 500 children is born with pyloric stenosis, in which the opening of the stomach is too narrow for much food to pass; its opposite is esophageal reflux disease, in which stomach contents keep moving back up into the esophagus because the opening is too lax.

"Our findings could mean that some congenital malformations and acquired disorders might be as a result of these cells going bad, not the cells people have been looking at," Dr. Sohal says.

His identification of these cells and subsequent tracking to identify specifically where they go and what they do have met with questions and criticism from some colleagues and rejection from some journals.

Undaunted, he continues to move forward, taking logical next steps to document what he admits is a mind-boggling concept. Some feedback from his latest work was that he might have randomly labeled cells from among the known cell types.

The logical progression of science coupled with that type of criticism has him looking for the genes for his VENT cells. "The turning point for us will be when we know the genes of these cells; that these cells have unique genes compared to any other cells," says Dr. Sohal. He believes that gene identification likely will happen this year and says preliminary evidence indicates the presence of unique ones.

Identification of the genes also will allow development of monoclonal antibodies that will enable Dr. Sohal and his research team to tag all VENT cells present during development, rather than the relatively few tagged with a marker gene for the most recent study.

"I would like to know, before I retire, what is the significance of these cells. I think it’s tremendous," the 54-year-old scientist says of the VENT cells he has documented coming from the neural tube, which is known for producing multipotential cells. "These cells migrate along nerves and nerves connect every tissue of the body. So here is a mechanism by which you could carry multipotential cells to various target tissues in the body." He noted that sometimes these cells get ahead of the nerves, so they may also cue nerves to make the proper connections with target tissue.

"That is not to say that we already know at this point that they make every cell type in the body, because we don’t. But the four tissues of the body are believed to come from different sources of cells … because the (cell) fates are believed to be restricted. What we are finding in these cells is that their fate is not restricted, they are flexible."

Toni Baker | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mcg.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice

17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>