Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Receptor Plays Key Role In Stem Cells’ Pluripotency


Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have identified a receptor that plays a key role in restricting embryonic stem cells’ pluripotency, their ability to develop into virtually any of an adult animal’s cell types.
The work is the first demonstration of a mechanism by which pluripotency is lost in mammalian embryos, one that operates with nearly the precision of an on/off switch in mouse embryos.

With further study, the receptor, dubbed GCNF, could open the door to new ways of creating embryonic stem cells without the ethical concerns associated with sacrificing embryos. GCNF, short for germ cell nuclear factor, was detailed in a recent paper in the journal Developmental Cell.

"In a sense, we’re hoping that understanding what GCNF actually does as it shuts down genes will let us turn back the clock on cellular development," said senior author Hans R. Schöler, professor of animal biology at Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine. "This knowledge may permit us to convert ordinary adult cells back to embryonic stem cells for research purposes."

Schöler, also the director of Penn’s Center for Animal Transgenesis and Germ Cell Research, said GCNF is the first factor known to repress the key gene Oct4, which is expressed in pluripotent embryonic cells.

While GCNF is likely just one cog in a complex cellular machinery that dictates pluripotency among the cells of mouse embryos, Schöler’s team believes it is a crucial player: without GCNF, restriction of pluripotency does not occur properly and the embryo eventually dies.

"The identification of GCNF as a repressor of Oct4 expression opens up several new avenues for understanding Oct4 regulation and, therefore, the control of the pluripotent state," wrote Peter J. Donovan of Thomas Jefferson University in an analysis appearing in the November issue of Nature Genetics. "The identification of a nexus between Oct4 and GCNF provides some critical clues as to how the differences between pluripotent and differentiated cells are established and maintained."

Active in a very limited population of cells, Oct4 is the only gene known to play an essential role in maintaining pluripotency. Whenever its expression is suppressed, as by GCNF, pluripotency is lost. Oct4’s tightly regulated activity decreases steadily as embryonic stem cells differentiate; GCNF eventually restricts Oct4’s expression in the body’s somatic cells, leaving expression only in the germ cell lineage.

With President Bush’s August declaration that federally funded research would be limited to stem cell lines already harvested from frozen embryos, many researchers are looking to alternative sources. Embryonic stem cells’ scientific appeal lies in their pluripotency: they have not yet determined their ultimate role, so each has the potential to become one of more than 200 tissue types in the body.

Scientists can now isolate stem cells, induce them to multiply and preferentially direct them to become, for example, skin cells, nerve cells or heart cells. This opens the door to replacing damaged adult cells that are not able to regenerate and may ultimately allow scientists to grow replacement organs for those in need of a new heart, lung or liver.

Schöler was joined in the September Developmental Cell paper by Guy Fuhrmann and Ian Sylvester of Penn; Arthur C.K. Chung, Kathy J. Jackson, Geoffrey Hummelke and Austen J. Cooney of Baylor College of Medicine; Aria Baniahmad of the University of Giessen in Germany; and Julien Sutter of the Centre du Neurochimie in Strasbourg, France.

Their work was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Marion Dilley and David George Jones Funds and the Commonwealth and General Assembly of Pennsylvania.

Steve Bradt | International Science News
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht North and South Cooperation to Combat Tuberculosis
22.03.2018 | Universität Zürich

nachricht Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein
22.03.2018 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

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...

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

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>