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
Copper hydroxide nanoparticles provide protection against toxic oxygen radicals in cigarette smoke
29.05.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University
The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.
The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences