Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

USC researchers track down the stem cells that create feathers

15.12.2005


Research, published in the journal Nature, may lead to insight on human organ regeneration



The stem cells that produce bird feathers have been visualized and analyzed for the first time, signifying the initial step in a scientific journey that may ultimately shed light on human organ regeneration.

The research, published in the December 15 issue of the journal Nature, was performed by a group of prominent stem-cell researchers from the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.


"What we found is that feather stem cells are distributed in a ring configuration around the inner wall of the vase-shaped feather follicle. This is different from hair stem cells, which are located in a bulge outside the follicle," explains Cheng-Ming Chuong, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pathology at the Keck School and principal investigator on this study.

Feather stem cells are of interest to scientists because of their profound regenerative abilities. A bird in nature molts twice a year. With more than 20,000 feathers on the average bird, Chuong notes, that means there are a lot of active, ongoing regenerative events in an adult bird.

Chuong and his USC colleagues identified epithelial stem cells within a chicken-feather follicle by giving the chickens water containing a non-radioactive label that was then incorporated and retained only in the putative epithelial stem cells. They showed that these cells were pluripotent-retaining the ability to differentiate into many different cell types-by taking the purported stem cells from quail-feather follicles and transplanting them into a chicken host. (Quail cells can be differentiated from chicken cells by cellular markers.) This demonstrated that only the labeled cells were pluripotent.

These stem cells, the researchers found, are well protected in the follicular base of each individual feather follicle. As they proliferate and differentiate, their progeny is displaced upward to create a feather. When the bird molts, the quill of the feather is dislodged from the follicle with a tapered proximal opening-the very feature that has historically made feathers so useful as writing implements-leaving behind a ring of stem cells for the creation of the next generation of feathers.

"The unique topological arrangement of stem cells, proliferating cells, and differentiating cells within the feather follicle allows for continuous growth, shedding, and regeneration of the entire organ," Chuong says.

Feathers are also of great interest to scientists due to their diverse shapes, each with its unique functional morphology. For example, the radially symmetric downy feathers found on chicks and on the trunks of adults are designed for warmth, while the bilaterally symmetric feathers found on the adult wing are designed for taking flight.

What Chuong and his colleagues found, to their surprise, was that the orientation of the ring of feather stem cells is related to the type of feather being generated: the stem cell ring is horizontally placed in radially symmetric downy feathers, but is tilted in bilaterally symmetric feathers, with the lower end of the ring on the anterior side of the follicle, where the rachis-the backbone of the feather-arises. In the Nature paper, Chuong postulates that it is this simple tilting that can transform feathers from radially symmetric to bilaterally symmetric morphologies by producing molecular gradients and/or asymmetric cell behaviors.

While this insight into the formation and regeneration of feathers is fascinating, it is the potential for application to human stem-cell studies that really motivates Chuong and his team.

"What we are really learning about is how stem cells are assembled into organs in nature. In this way, we can take advantage of the distinct patterns of the feather as a model to understand the fundamental principles of organ formation and regeneration," Chuong notes. "Nature is the best teacher for tissue engineering. What we decipher from our animal models can then be applied to help human stem cells and adult human organs to regenerate-and regenerate properly."

Jon Weiner | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.usc.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood
23.02.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht New Mechanisms of Gene Inactivation may prevent Aging and Cancer
23.02.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'

23.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

'Quartz' crystals at the Earth's core power its magnetic field

23.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood

23.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>