Duke University Medical Center cell biologists have defined a signaling system between stem cells and the specialized "niche cells" that harbor and regulate them. The findings provide better understanding of the signals that stimulate stem cells to either create more copies of themselves or to differentiate into another cell type, said the researchers.
Germline stem cells are immature cells in the reproductive system that can proliferate and mature into sperm and eggs. While it is has been appreciated that these stem cells exist in a microenvironment attached niche cells, it has not been well understood how these two cell types communicate.
In their latest study, the results of which were published in the Jan. 26, 2005, issue of the journal Current Biology, the Duke team reported that regulatory genes from niche cells instruct genes in stem cells to determine the future path of the stem cells. Both niche and stem cells possess genes which produce proteins that act as a series of "on-off" switches for stem cell division, the researchers said. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Richard Merritt | EurekAlert!
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