These findings add to the growing body of knowledge that researchers all over the world are using to direct embryonic stem cells to become specific specialised cells – a fundamental requirement for using lab-grown cells to model disease, test the effects of new drugs and, potentially, treat disease and injury.
Embryonic stem cells have the unique ability to divide to produce both copies of themselves and other, more specialised, cell types. The process whereby embryonic stem cells commit to become specialised cells is still obscure. In particular, the precise role of the protein Fibroblast Growth Factor 4 (FGF4) in this key decision point has been uncertain, until now.
Dr Tilo Kunath and Prof Austin Smith, together with collaborators in Montreal, Canada, show that FGF4 is not involved in the maintenance of cells in the naïve, self-renewing state but is essential to prime cells into a transitional stage, wherein they can go down any one of several paths.
Says Tilo, ‘Depending on the signal presented to the mouse embryonic stem cells, they can go back to the naïve state, and divide without limit, or down one of several specialisation pathways, including routes towards nerve cells or muscle cells. We have coined a name for the cells in this stage – we call them ‘commitment-competent’ cells, in contrast to the embryonic stem cells who do not receive a signal from FGF4, which we call ‘commitment-phobic’.
Human embryonic stem cells need FGF protein to grow in a dish. Whether this is required for maintenance of the human stem cells, or for priming the cells for specialisation, similarly to FGF4, is not yet known. If confirmed in human embryonic stem cells, these latest findings provide a further handle on how to manipulate these cells so as to direct them down specific pathways and obtain specialised cells.
This work was funded by a Parkinson’s Disease Society fellowship held by Tilo Kunath, with support from Stem Cell Sciences PLC, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC), the European Commission Integrated Project ‘EuroStemCell’, and the National Cancer Institute of Canada.
Ana Godinho | alfa
Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)
If solubilty is the problem - Mechanochemistry is the solution
25.05.2018 | Technische Universität Dresden
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences
25.05.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research
24.05.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation