Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Solving stem cell mysteries

The ability of embryonic stem cells to differentiate into different types of cells with different functions is regulated and maintained by a complex series of chemical interactions, which are not well understood.

Learning more about this process could prove useful for stem cell-based therapies down the road. New research from a team led by Carnegie's Yixian Zheng zeroes in on the process by which stem cells maintain their proper undifferentiated state. Their results are published in Cell October 26.

Embryonic stem cells go through a process called self-renewal, wherein they undergo multiple cycles of division while not differentiating into any other type of cells. This process is dependent on three protein networks, which guide both self-renewal and eventual differentiation. But the integration of these three networks has remained a mystery.

Using a combination of genetic, protein-oriented and physiological approaches involving mouse embryonic stem cells, the team—which also included current and former Carnegie scientists Junling Jia, Xiaobin Zheng, Junqi Zhang, Anying Zhang, and Hao Jiang—uncovered a mechanism that integrates all three networks involved in embryonic stem cell self-renewal and provide a critical missing link to understanding this process.

The key is a protein called Utf1. It serves three important roles. First, it balances between activating and deactivating the necessary genes to direct the cell toward differentiation. At the same time, it acts on messenger RNA that is the transcription product of the genes when they're activated by tagging it for degradation, rather than allowing it to continue to serve its cellular function. Lastly, it blocks a genetic feedback loop that normally inhibits cellular proliferation, allowing it to occur in the rapid nature characteristic of embryonic stem cells.

"We are slowly but surely growing to understand the physiology of embryonic stem cells," Zheng said. "It is crucial that we continue to carrying out basic research on how these cells function."

Non-Carnegie co-authors on the paper include Gangquing Hu, Kairong Cui, Chengyu Liu and Keji Zhao of the National Institutes of Health; and John Yates III and Bingwen Lu of the Scripps Research Institute, the latter of whom is now at Pfizer.

This research was supported by NIH, NHLBI intramural research, HHMI, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics Inc.

The Carnegie Institution for Science is a private, nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., with six research departments throughout the U.S. Since its founding in 1902, the Carnegie Institution has been a pioneering force in basic scientific research. Carnegie scientists are leaders in plant biology, developmental biology, astronomy, materials science, global ecology, and Earth and planetary science.

Yixian Zheng | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Sweetening neurotransmitter receptors and other neuronal proteins
28.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Hirnforschung

nachricht A new look at thyroid diseases
28.10.2016 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

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...

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

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>