A gene called Six2 plays a critical role in the development of the kidney by keeping a population of "parent" stem cells constantly available to produce the differentiated cells that give rise to specialized parts of the organ, according to investigators at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Differentiation is the process by which a progenitor (unspecialized) cell develops characteristics specific to its job in the body.
The kidney stem cells, called mesenchymal blastemal cells, are the source of cells triggered by chemical signals to differentiate into nephrons--the structures in the kidney that cleanse the blood of waste. The nephrons later become attached to ducts--tubes that collect the filtered blood as urine and direct it to the bladder. The St. Jude team showed that Six2 works by preventing some of the precursor cells from responding to these signals. This ensures there will be a continual source of undifferentiated stem cells available to maintain the growth of the kidney.
"Our work shows that Six2 is critical to preventing the developing kidney from running out of stem cells and collapsing into a mass of underdeveloped tissue," said Guillermo Oliver, Ph.D., a member of the St. Jude Genetics and Tumor Cell Biology Department. Oliver is senior author of a report on this finding that appears in the online issue of The EMBO Journal.
"Our discovery of Six2's role in the developing kidney suggests that a similar mechanism exists in other developing organs," said Michelle Self, the doctoral student in Oliver's laboratory who did most of the work on this project.
The St. Jude team showed that the kidneys in developing mice lacking the Six2 gene were remarkably smaller than normal mice and were non-functional at birth. In addition, they produced an abnormal excess in the number of nephrons that in turn produced a useless mass of tissue. Furthermore, the remaining precursor cells underwent apoptosis (cell suicide), further depleting the population of stem cells that could give rise to differentiated cells needed to form the kidney.
The researchers also found that Six2 works by suppressing a cascade of genetic interactions normally triggered by a gene called Wnt4, which usually drives the normal development of kidneys.
Bonnie Kourvelas | EurekAlert!
Cells communicate in a dynamic code
19.02.2018 | California Institute of Technology
Studying mitosis' structure to understand the inside of cancer cells
19.02.2018 | Biophysical Society
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.02.2018 | Life Sciences