The researchers examined a signaling pathway called TOR that the cells use to gauge nutrition levels and stress, said study senior author Dr. Julian A. Martinez-Agosto, an assistant professor of human genetics and pediatrics and a researcher with the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA.
“We wondered how an organism knows how many blood cells to make and when to make them in the context of injury and repair to tissue. In particular, we wondered how the blood progenitor cells sense that change and know when it’s time to make more blood cells,” Martinez-Agosto said. “We found that the TOR pathway uses these two genes to regulate its function and, when activated, it expands or increases the number of blood progenitor cells in the fly’s blood.”
The study appears Sept. 5, 2012 in the advance online issue of the peer-reviewed journal Development.
Michelle Dragojlovic-Munther, a graduate student in the Martinez-Agosto laboratory and first author of the study, found that cells with increased activity of TOR have a competitive advantage, allowing them to divide and make more of themselves so they can make blood. These progenitors, Dragojlovic-Munther found, also have high levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) - ions or very small molecules that include free radicals – which are known to damage cells and can predispose humans to aging and heart disease. But in this case, the ROS proved valuable.
The precursors, Martinez-Agosto said, were producing ROS all the time and when TOR was activated, the levels increased dramatically. Too much ROS caused them to divide more than normal. If they treated the flies with antioxidants, which reduce ROS levels, the cells would develop normally.
The finding could be important because the TOR pathway is abnormally activated in many cancers, and it may be possible to target the levels of ROS, which may help regulate the pathway.
“What this study may be telling us is that too much ROS is causing more cells to divide and we may be able to target therapies that reduce ROS to significantly improve the condition,” Martinez-Agosto said, adding that specifically targeted antioxidants might be a potential treatment in certain subsets of blood disorders. “Sometimes that pathway is working more than it should, and we need the right amount of ROS for balance. It’s like Goldilocks, there can’t be too little or too much. We need it just right.”
Going forward, Martinez-Agosto and his team will try to determine where the ROS is coming from and perhaps discover an enzyme that may be a good target for therapeutics. They know that the higher ROS levels in blood progenitors are not coming from mitochondria, the cell’s power source, but have not identified how they are being produced.
“This study highlights mechanistic differences between TSC and PTEN on TOR function and demonstrates the multifaceted roles of a nutrient-sensing pathway in orchestrating proliferation and differentiation of myeloid-specific blood progenitors through regulation of ROS levels and the resulting myeloproliferative disorder when deregulated,” the study states.
The study was funded by a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health (GM007185) and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
The stem cell center was launched in 2005 with a UCLA commitment of $20 million over five years. A $20 million gift from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation in 2007 resulted in the renaming of the center. With more than 200 members, the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research is committed to a multi-disciplinary, integrated collaboration of scientific, academic and medical disciplines for the purpose of understanding adult and human embryonic stem cells. The center supports innovation, excellence and the highest ethical standards focused on stem cell research with the intent of facilitating basic scientific inquiry directed towards future clinical applications to treat disease. The center is a collaboration of the David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center, the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and the UCLA College of Letters and Science. To learn more about the center, visit our web site at http://www.stemcell.ucla.edu.
Kim Irwin | Newswise Science News
Further reports about: > Broad Institute > Dragojlovic-Munther > Medicine > Precursor > Regenerative Therapien > Stem cell innovation > blood cell > blood flow > cell death > clinical application > embryonic stem cell > fly > fresh fruit > genes > human embryonic stem cell > methanol fuel cells > progenitor cells > suppressor
Gut microbiome regulates the intestinal immune system, researchers find
19.12.2018 | Brown University
Greener days ahead for carbon fuels
19.12.2018 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Different eras of civilization are defined by the discovery of new materials, as new materials drive new capabilities. And yet, identifying the best material...
Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.
Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...
The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.
Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...
What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
19.12.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.12.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.12.2018 | Life Sciences