Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Ronin recruits protein 'allies' to sustain embryonic stem cell growth

Ronin, crucial to the self-renewal of embryonic stem cells, and a co-regulator called Hcf-1, binds to a small strand of DNA called a hyperconserved enhancer element to control a gene "program" that stimulates growth of the stem cells and may even play a role in cancer, said a group of researchers led by Baylor College of Medicine in a current report in the journal Genes and Development.

Dr. Thomas P. Zwaka, associate professor in the Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine (STaR) Center at BCM and others in his laboratory first identified Ronin and its role in maintaining stem cells in their undifferentiated state. Now he and his colleagues from the University of Houston, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Mass., have identified the tiny strand of DNA that enables the protein with its co-regulator Hcf-1 to maintain the rapid growth that characterizes embryonic stems cells.

Finding this small DNA strand required determining the genetic sequence of the site to which Ronin binds in the genome, he said. They used high tech, extremely rapid sequencing methods (high throughput, massively parallel sequencing) to identify the appropriate sequences and determine their genetic code. They analyzed 866 potential binding sites and found a similar motif in 844.

As chance would have it, this genetic sequence had been previously identified in a pure bioinformatics study of genetic sequences that are present in most mammalian species. Because such sequences are conserved throughout evolution, they are believed to play a fundamental role in cellular processes. In a list of 100 most conserved genetic regions, this DNA sequence ranked fourth in frequency. In this case, researchers believe that the small DNA strand bound to a transcription factor that they had not identified. (A transcription factor governs translation of the DNA message in a gene into RNA, which can then be used by the cell's machinery as a template for a protein.)

"Ronin is that factor," said Zwaka. "Ronin binds to the 'hyperconserved enhancer element' sequence and then recruits Hcf-1. Only if it recruits Hcf-1 do we get activation of the special gene growth program."

With this highly conserved enhancer element, the Ronin/Hcf-1 combination controls a specific growth program of genes that are required in the early formation of an embryo, stem cells and maybe in some tumor cells, he said.

"When you look at the target genes of Ronin/Hcf-1, all are in the category of protein metabolism," he said.

Embryonic stem cells are characterized by rapid growth and renewal.

"Graduate students complain that they have to split and feed the cells every day. If you don't supply them with fresh medium, they die because they use it all up. It is important to understand what underlies this prolific growth," he said.

Understanding that could help scientists growth the cells better in the laboratory. Cancer growth, in many ways, simulates that of embryonic stem cells, he said. Understanding the growth program made up of 1,000 or more genes regulated by Ronin/Hcf-1 could help determine new strategies for fighting tumors.

Others who took part in this research include Dr. Marion Dejosez of BCM, Dr. Stuart S. Levine, Garrett M. Frampton, Warren Whyte and Dr. Richard A. Young of MIT, Sabrina A. Stratton and Dr. Michelle C. Barton of MD Anderson and Dr. Preethi H. Gunaratne of UH.

Funding for this work came from the National Institutes of Health, the Diana Helis Henry Medical Research Foundation and the Huffington Foundation.

When the embargo lifts, this report will be available at

For more information on basic science research at Baylor College of Medicine, go to or

Glenna Picton | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Here comes the long-sought-after iron-munching microbe
25.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für marine Mikrobiologie

nachricht Novel method to benchmark and improve the performance of protein measumeasurement techniques
25.10.2016 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

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...

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

First-time reconstruction of infectious bat influenza viruses

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Novel method to benchmark and improve the performance of protein measumeasurement techniques

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Amazon rain helps make more rain

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>