Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Stowers Institute researchers identify stem cell niche


A research team led by scientists at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research have discovered the location in mice where hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) reside, often called the HSCs’ microenvironment or "niche." The team also identified mechanisms involved in controlling the size of the niche and the number of adult HSCs the body produces. This research has solved the puzzle of the hematopoietic stem cell niche first articulated more than 25 years ago and has defined its essential features in both cellular and molecular terms.

The findings are reported in the Oct. 23 issue of Nature.

HSCs are a population of bone marrow cells capable of self-renewal and production of all types of blood cells. Normally these cells cannot function properly outside their exclusive niche. According to Stowers Institute Assistant Investigator Linheng Li, Ph.D., who led the study, the niche not only provides a home for the HSCs but also regulates their numbers. Gaining greater understanding of the stem cell’s niche and its regulatory signals is an important advance toward the goal of using stem cells for therapeutic purposes.

The research team found that a particular subset of osteoblastic cells, called SNO (spindle-shaped N-cadherin-positive osteoblastic) cells, line the surface of trabecular bone in the marrow cavity, support hematopoietic stem cells, and constitute the primary cellular component of the niche where HSCs reside. By interrupting the signaling pathway through the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) receptor, the team showed that the size of the HSC niche and the number of HSCs could be increased. They concluded that a change in the size of this niche determines the number of stem cells produced, and the BMP signaling pathway controls the niche size and thus the number of stem cells.

"Although we have identified the SNO cells as an important cellular component of the HSC niche, whether SNO cells alone are sufficient to maintain HSCs, particularly in vitro, is not clear at this point," Dr. Li said. "This merits further investigation."

Dr. Li’s findings are corroborated in studies undertaken independently by a group of scientists working at the University of Rochester and at Harvard Medical School and published simultaneously in the October 23 issue of Nature.

"Jim and Virginia Stowers believe that highest quality basic research will point the way to more effective means of preventing and curing disease," said William Neaves, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Stowers Institute. "The work published by Dr. Li and his colleagues in the October 23 issue of Nature typifies the results envisioned by them. His findings open new opportunities for research on the stem cell niche and could eventually lead to more effective methods of restoring stem cells in the bone marrow of cancer patients after radiation and chemotherapy."

Joining Stowers Institute scientists in conducting the study were researchers from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. In addition to his primary appointment at the Stowers Institute, Dr. Li holds a faculty appointment at the University of Kansas School of Medicine.

Situated on a 10-acre campus in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri, the Stowers Institute for Medical Research conducts research on the fundamental processes of cellular life. Through basic research of the highest quality, the Stowers Institute seeks insights that will lead to more effective ways of preserving health and preventing disease. The Institute was founded in 1994 by Jim and Virginia Stowers, two cancer survivors who have dedicated their fortune to supporting the basic research that will provide long-term solutions to gene-based diseases.

Laurie Wimberly | EurekAlert!
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: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

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...

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

First results of NSTX-U research operations

26.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

UCI and NASA document accelerated glacier melting in West Antarctica

26.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>