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 Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>