Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Discovery suggests why stem cells run through stop signs

13.06.2005


Everyone knows that stem cells are controversial. Many people know that stem cells can grow into virtually any cell type found in the body, from a red blood cell to a muscle cell to a brain cell. But no one really knows why stem cells continue to divide and renew themselves long after the point where other cells stop dividing.



Now scientists at Northwestern University and the University of Washington offer one of the first clues as to why stem cells ignore stop signs in the cell cycle: a special molecular mechanism has cut the brakes. The researchers found that tiny bits of genetic material called microRNAs are necessary for stem cell division to take place, suggesting that microRNAs shut off the signals that stop cell division in most other cells.

The findings were published online this week by the journal Nature. In the paper, the researchers also speculate that microRNAs may play a similar role in cancer cells, encouraging their proliferation. This speculation is supported by three other new papers published this week in Nature linking microRNAs to cancer.


According to authors Richard Carthew, Owen L. Coon Professor of Molecular Biology at Northwestern University, and Hannele Ruohola-Baker, professor of biochemistry at the University of Washington, microRNAs can regulate gene expression and give stem cells a green light to pass from the normal stop phase to the stage in which they begin replicating their DNA for later division.

In their work, Carthew and Ruohola-Baker focused on fruit flies, which have approximately 80 types of microRNAs. They genetically modified stem cells from the fruit flies’ ovaries and studied how many egg chambers the mutant stem cells produced as compared to normal stem cells. The production rate in the mutant cells fell over the course of 12 days, and the researchers concluded it was because the mutant stem cells were no longer dividing.

Without the microRNAs at work, the brakes were applied to the cell division of the mutant stem cells, just like ordinary cells. The cellular brake (in this case a protein called Dacapo, a fruit fly homologue of a human tumor suppressor) kept the stem cells from proliferating.

"Determining which of the 80 microRNAs is responsible for deactivating the stop signal is the next step of our research," said Ruohola-Baker.

"The list of chores that microRNAs do within cells keeps growing in new and surprising ways," added Carthew. "This latest discovery with stem cell division makes us wonder if microRNAs also control division of other types of cells such as cancer cells."

Other authors on the Nature paper are Kenji Nakahara of Northwestern University and Karin Fischer, Steve Hatfield and Halyna Shcherbata of the University of Washington.

Megan Fellman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.northwestern.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed
18.01.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht 127 at one blow...
18.01.2017 | Stiftung Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Leibniz-Institut für Biodiversität der Tiere

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

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...

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

A big nano boost for solar cells

18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Glass's off-kilter harmonies

18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed

18.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>