For the first time, researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have identified and isolated adult mammary stem cells in mice.
Long-term implications of this research may include the use of such cells to regenerate breast tissue, provide a better understanding of the role of adult stem cells in breast cancer development, and develop potential new targets for anti-cancer drugs.
The findings, by Larry Rohrschneider, Ph.D., a member of the Basic Sciences Division at the Hutchinson Center, and Lixia Bai, M.D., Ph.D., a research associate in his lab, are published in the Sept. 1 issue of Genes & Development.
Using a genetically modified mouse model, the researchers tagged stem cells with green fluorescent protein (GFP), which exhibits bright green fluorescence during gene expression and can be easily seen under a microscope. GFP expression is controlled by the promoter of a newly identified gene, specifically expressed in stem cells, called s-SHIP.
“Until now, we have not been able to identify stem cells in mammary tissue. They have never been detected before with such specificity. It is extraordinary. You can see these green stem cells under the microscope in their pure, natural state,” said Rohrschneider, who has filed a patent on the s-SHIP promoter-GFP-labeling technology.
Previous systems for isolating stem cells have relied on a variety of biomarkers, none of which have yielded a pure stem cell population. This limitation has prohibited accurate gene-expression analysis of such cells.
The researchers demonstrated the presence of active green stem cells at crucial stages of mammary development, such as puberty and pregnancy. During quiescent stages of development, however, the cells did not "light up."
Such stem cells represent a new alternative to induced pluripotent stem cells, or genetically altered stem cells, for various medical applications.
For example, by isolating the pure green mammary cells from donor female transgenic mice, the researchers have demonstrated the regenerative ability of these cells by transplanting them into the mammary fat tissue of recipient mice whose own mammary epithelium has been removed.
"We have found that those transplanted green stem cells can generate new mammary tissue and this tissue can produce milk, just like normal mammary epithelial cells," said co-author Bai. "Identification of the exact stem cell and its location is the first critical and fundamental step toward understanding the regulatory mechanisms of these important cells."
In addition to potential clinical applications regarding tissue regeneration, the researchers see these isolated stem cells as a window to better understanding how normal stem cells can become cancer stem cells, which are hypothesized to exist in tumors.
"Our belief right now is that perhaps the most aggressive tumors may be coming from the malignant transformation of stem cells in healthy tissue," Rohrschneider said. "This new technology offers a unified model for identifying normal and cancer stem cells."
Cancer stem cells are thought to be responsible for tumor initiation, growth, metastasis, therapy resistance and disease relapse.
"Because stem cells are critical for both normal tissue development and cancer development, exploring how they are regulated in normal development will help us to better understand how they are transformed into breast cancer cells," Bai said. "By searching for new methods to effectively and specifically target cancer stem cells, we hope we can cure breast cancer someday." she said.
The National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the Hutchinson Center and financial support from anonymous donors supported this work.
At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, our interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists and humanitarians work together to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Our researchers, including three Nobel laureates, bring a relentless pursuit and passion for health, knowledge and hope to their work and to the world. www.fhcrc.org
Photo available upon request: A color photo of GFP-positive (green) mammary stem cells in puberty mammary tissue is available upon request.
Kristen Woodward | EurekAlert!
Could this protein protect people against coronary artery disease?
17.11.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care
Microbial resident enables beetles to feed on a leafy diet
17.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie
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...
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...
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....
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,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine
17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses