Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Master regulatory gene found that guides fate of blood-producing stem cells


Discovery may lead to new therapies for leukemia, other blood disorders

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that a protein called NF-Ya activates several genes known to regulate the development of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC), or blood-producing stem cells, in bone marrow. Knowing the details of this pathway may one day lead to new treatments for such blood diseases as leukemia, as well as a better understanding of how HSCs work in the context of bone-marrow and peripheral-stem-cell transplantation. The authors published their findings in the early August issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Understanding the biology behind how the body precisely controls stem-cell fate is one of the most important issues in stem-cell biology," says senior author Stephen G. Emerson, MD, PhD, Associate Director of Clinical Research for Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center and Chief of the Division of Hematology-Oncology. When HSCs divide, they have one of three fates: develop into two more stem cells, which is called self-renewal; differentiate to become one of several mature blood-cell types; or strike a balance in which one daughter cell becomes an HSC and the other becomes a mature blood-cell type.

"We know that in diseases like leukemia, the first scenario-no differentiated cells, two HCSs developing-must occur because more and more stem cells are made," explains Emerson. In conditions like bone-marrow failure, the second scenario-two differentiated cells and no HCSs-happens because the body runs out of HSCs.

"We want to figure out how this process is normally regulated in the body, so that we can learn to control it for therapeutic purposes," says Emerson. "For some clinical purposes, we might want to shift the balance so that we can grow more stem cells, for those who need them. Conversely, for patients in whom this process has gone awry, such as acute leukemia, we might block the regulatory gene to shift the balance of self-renewal versus differentiation so that all the immature, leukemic cells differentiate and die.

Over the past 10 years, several gene families have been suggested to be important in regulating HSC fate-for example homebox, wnt, notch 1, and telomerase genes. Emerson and colleagues figured that one transcription factor, called NF-Y, was required for activating promoters of all of these genes. What’s more, they found that fully assembled NF-Y was activated in stem cells and disappeared when the stem cells became mature cell types, through the induction and loss of one its subunits, NF-Ya.

"When we overexpressed NF-Ya in stem cells, the stem cells produced ten- to twenty-fold more stem cells after transplantation," says Emerson. "This makes NF-Ya the prime candidate for a master-regulatory gene for multiple, if not all, stem-cell division programs." NF-Ya would be considered the master regulatory gene since it activates multiple HSC regulatory genes and promotes HSC self-renewal.

Practically, the researchers’ goal is to find a way to control stem-cell fate by biochemically turning NF-Ya on or off at will, to either make more stem cells in the case of bone-marrow failure and for transplantation, or to force the cells to differentiate, in the case of leukemia, where too many HSCs are made.

Karen Kreeger | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Signaling Pathways to the Nucleus
19.03.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht In monogamous species, a compatible partner is more important than an ornamented one
19.03.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Ornithologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

A new kind of quantum bits in two dimensions

19.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists have a new way to gauge the growth of nanowires

19.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>