The research will be published in the Dec. 26 issue of the journal Cell.
“This is a major development in stem cell research because we know that rats are much more closely related to humans than mice in many aspects of biology. The research direction of many labs around the world will change because of the availability of rat ES cells,” says Qi-Long Ying, Ph.D., assistant professor of Cell and Neurobiology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, researcher at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC, and the study’s principal investigator.
The finding brings scientists much closer to creating “knockout” rats—animals that are genetically modified to lack one or more genes—for biomedical research. By observing what happens to animals when specific genes are removed, researchers can identify the function of the gene and whether it is linked to a specific disease.
“Without ES cells it is impossible to perform precise genetic modifications for the creation of the disease model we want,” he says. “The availability of rat ES cells will greatly facilitate the creation of rat models for the study of different human diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, addiction and autoimmune diseases.”
Ying, a native of China, notes that this breakthrough research occurred during 2008, the Chinese year of the rat.
Embryonic stem cells are derived from a group of cells called the inner cell mass in a very early stage embryo. ES cells provide researchers with a valuable tool to address fundamental biological questions, because they enable scientists to study how genes function, and to develop animals with conditions that mimic important human diseases.
The first ES cell lines were established from mice in 1981 by Martin Evans of Cardiff University, UK, who was last year awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology. Researchers have long been working on establishing rat ES cells, but faced technical hurdles because the conventional methods developed for the derivation of mouse cells did not work in rats.
Building on recent research into how ES cells are maintained, the USC researchers found that rat ES cells can be efficiently derived and grown in the presence of the “3i medium,” which consists of molecules that inhibit three specific gene signaling components (GSK3, MEK and FGF receptor kinase). This approach insulates the stem cell from signals that would normally cause it to differentiate, or turn into specialized types of body cells. By blocking these signals, Ying and colleagues found that stem cells from rats, which have previously failed to propagate at all, could be grown indefinitely in the laboratory in the primitive embryonic state.
An accompanying study led by researchers at the University of Cambridge, U.K., reported similar findings, independently verifying that authentic ES cells can be established from rats. Both papers will be published in the upcoming issue of Cell.
“The development of rat embryonic stem cells, long sought by researchers around the world, is a major advance in biomedical science,” says Martin Pera, Ph.D., director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC. “These new stem cell lines will make a huge contribution to basic and applied research and drug development, by providing a technology platform for facile genetic manipulation of a mammalian species that is widely used in academic and industrial labs studying physiology, pathology and pharmacology.”
Until now, authentic ES cells have never been established from humans or animals other than mice. This new key understanding into how ES cells are maintained in culture may eventually enable scientists to establish real ES cell lines from a number of other mammals, which could have significant implications for organ transplantations and the development of drug therapies, Ying says. Researchers at USC are currently working on generating the first gene knockout rat through ES cell-based technologies.
“If our work is feasible it is likely that many labs will follow up to generate different types of gene knockout rat models,” he says. “This will have a major impact on the future of biomedical research.”
Ping Li, Chang Tong, Ruty Mehrian-Shai, Li Jia, Nancy Wu, Youzhen Yan, Eric N. Schulze, Houyan Song, Chih-Lin Shieh, Martin F. Pera, Qi-Long Ying. “Germline Competent Embryonic Stem Cells Derived from Rat Blatocysts.” Cell. D-08-01205R2.
Sara Reeve | Newswise Science News
A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
18.08.2017 | Life Sciences
18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences