The discovery might eventually lead to the use of vitamin C to improve results of in vitro fertilization, in which early embryos now are typically grown without the vitamin, and also to treat cancer, in which tumor cells abnormally engage or release these brakes on gene activation, the researchers concluded in a study published June 30, 2013 in the journal Nature.
In the near term, stem-cell scientists may begin incorporating vitamin C more systematically into their procedures for growing the most healthy and useful stem cells, according to UCSF stem-cell scientist Miguel Ramalho-Santos, PhD, who led the study. In fact, the unanticipated discovery emerged from an effort to compare different formulations of the growth medium, a kind of nutrient broth used to grow mouse embryonic stem cells in the lab.
During the development of multicellular organisms, humans among them, different patterns of methylation arise in different cells as methyl groups are biochemically attached to DNA at specific points along the genome during successive cell divisions. Normally this gradual methylation, a key part of the developmental program, is not reversible.But after fertilization and during early development, a class of enzymes called “Tet” acts on a wide array of the methyl groups on the DNA to remove these brakes, so that genes can be activated as needed.
UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care.
Jeffrey Norris | EurekAlert!
Further reports about: > California > DNA > Ramalho-Santos > UCSF > Vitamin B > Vitamin C > cell type > early stage > embryonic stem cell > gene activity > health services > in vitro fertilization > key enzyme > methyl group > mouse embryo > multicellular organism > specific gene > stem cells > vitro fertilization
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