Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The Origin of Stem Cells

08.02.2017

The protein WOX2 is responsible for enabling plants to develop organs throughout their lives

Freiburg plant biologist Prof. Dr. Thomas Laux and his research group have published an article in the journal Developmental Cell presenting initial findings on how shoot stem cells in plants form during embryogenesis, the process of embryonic development. Pluripotent stem cells can develop into any type of cell in an organism.


Arabidopsis

Photo: Thomas Kunz

In contrast to animals, plants can form completely new organs from their stem cells throughout their lives, which in the case of several species of trees may span a thousand years or more. Stem cell research promises to solve key problems in medicine and plant breeding.

However, whereas the function of stem cells for the regeneration of tissue or for growth has been studied in detail, much less is known so far about how stem cells form in the course of embryonic development.

Several years ago, Laux and his team already discovered the transcription factor responsible for the continuous replacement of shoot stem cells in the model plant Arabidopsis, commonly known as thale cress. Called WUSCHEL, this protein is already present in the embryo when the stem cells form.

“Much to our surprise, our PhD student Zhongjuan Zhang made the key observation that it is not WUSCHEL but the related transcription factor WOX2 that is responsible for the development of the stem cells,” says Laux. All that was previously known about the protein WOX2 was that it controls earlier steps in the pattern formation of the embryo, the phase in which the embryo’s cells arrange themselves in a particular structure. Zhang discovered that WOX2 prevents the cells in the region of the embryo in which the stem cells form from differentiating into specialized cell types and thus from losing their unlimited potential for development.

This means that plants follow similar strategies in the process of stem cell development as found in animals. In the case of Arabidopsis, WOX2 regulates the balance between the two plant hormones cytokinin and auxin by allowing relatively large amounts of the former and relatively small amounts of the latter to collect in the progenitor cells of the stem cells. Plant researchers have already been using this mechanism for several decades to regenerate a shoot from a root or a leaf. This method, originally found in tissue cultures, therefore ultimately reflects the same mechanism that evolution already found much earlier to develop stem cells during embryogenesis.

Thomas Laux is head of a laboratory at the Institute of Biology III and a member of the University of Freiburg’s Cluster of Excellence BIOSS Centre for Biological Signalling Studies.

Original publication:
Zhongjuan Zhang, Elise Tucker, Marita Hermann, Thomas Laux (2017): Molecular Framework for the Embryonic Initiation of Shoot Meristem Stem Cells. In: Developmental Cell. doi:org/10.1016/j.devcel.2017.01.002

Article in the research magazine uni’wissen (2012)
www.pr2.uni-freiburg.de/publikationen/uniwissen/uniwissen-2012-2-en/#/32

Contact:
Prof. Dr. Thomas Laux
Institute of Biology III
University of Freiburg
Phone: +49 (0)761/203-2943
E-Mail: laux@biologie.uni-freiburg.de

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.pr.uni-freiburg.de/pm/2017/pm.2017-02-08.17-en?set_language=en

Rudolf-Werner Dreier | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New catalyst controls activation of a carbon-hydrogen bond
21.11.2017 | Emory Health Sciences

nachricht The main switch
21.11.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Previous evidence of water on mars now identified as grainflows

21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope completes final cryogenic testing

21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New catalyst controls activation of a carbon-hydrogen bond

21.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>