In contrast, mature cells in children and adults depend more on cell mitochondria to convert sugar and oxygen into carbon dioxide and water during a high energy-producing process called oxidative phosphorylation for their metabolic needs.
How cells progress from one form of energy production to another during development is unknown, although a finding by UCLA stem cell researchers provides new insight for this transition that may have implications for using these cells for therapies in the clinic.
Based mostly on visual appearance, it had been assumed that pluripotent stem cells contained undeveloped and inactive mitochondria, which are the energy-producing power plants that drive most cell functions. It was thought that stem cell mitochondria could not respire, or convert sugar and oxygen into carbon dioxide and water with the production of energy. This led most scientists to expect that mitochondria matured and gained the ability to respire during the transition from pluripotent stem cells into differentiated body cells over time.
Surprisingly, UCLA stem cell researchers discovered that pluripotent stem cell mitochondria respire at roughly the same level as differentiated body cells, although they produced very little energy, thereby uncoupling the consumption of sugar and oxygen from energy generation. Rather than finding that mitochondria matured with cell differentiation, as was anticipated, the researchers uncovered a mechanism by which the stem cells converted from glucose fermentation to oxygen-dependent respiration to achieve full differentiation potential.
The four-year study appears in the Nov. 15, 2011 issue of The EMBO Journal, a peer-reviewed journal of the European Molecular Biology Organization. Teitell collaborated with Carla Koehler, a UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry, for the study.
“A lot of attention is being paid to the role of metabolism in pluripotent stem cells for making properly differentiated cell lineages for research and potential clinical uses,” said study senior author Dr. Michael Teitell, a researcher with the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA and a professor of pediatrics, pathology and laboratory medicine, and bioengineering.
The initial question prompting our study was whether metabolism in pluripotent stem cells and cancer cells, which also rely heavily on glycolysis, were molecularly similar,” he said. “This question led us to study the details of energy-generation by mitochondria in pluripotent stem cells.”
Cells make energy in the form of ATP mainly in two ways, by glucose uptake and fermentation in the cytoplasm or by using respiration, in which glucose and oxygen are consumed to make carbon dioxide and water to fuel cell functions. Teitell and his team expected that pluripotent stem cells could not respire because of prior reports on the immature appearance and paucity of mitochondria.
Teitell’s team found that the molecular complexes responsible for respiration, called the electron transport chain, in the mitochondria of pluripotent stem cells were functional, and yet the cells instead relied on glycolysis for energy production. The researchers speculated that there were one or more unknown regulators that kept the stem cells from respiring, since the electron transport chain was functional.
Jin Zhang, a graduate student and first author of the study, discovered that a protein called uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2), was highly expressed in the stem cells. He also found that UCP2 blocked respiration substrates derived from sugar from gaining access to the mitochondria, instead shunting them to the glycolytic and biosynthesis pathways located in the cytoplasm, inhibiting the stem cell’s ability to respire as a method for generating energy.
As pluripotent stem cells were driven to develop into mature cell types, UCP2 expression was shut off, allowing respiration substrates to enter the mitochondria for energy generation, switching the cells from glycolysis to oxidative phosphorylation. Manipulating UCP2 expression, by keeping it switched on in differentiating cells, disturbed their maturation, a finding that could make them unsuitable for clinical use and also pointing to the importance of properly functioning metabolism for generating safe, high quality cells.
Teitell and his team confirmed these findings in both human embryonic stem cells and in induced pluripotent stem cells, which are mature body cells that are genetically reprogrammed to have similar abilities and attributes as the pluripotent embryonic stem cells.
“A main question that evolved during the study was whether it was the process of pluripotent stem cell differentiation that was altering the pattern of metabolism, or was it the change in the pattern of metabolism that altered the process of differentiation, a typical chicken-or-the-egg question,” Teitell said. “We over-expressed UCP2 in the stem cells and showed that metabolism patterns changed before markers of pluripotency or cell maturation changed, indicating that changes in metabolism affect changes in differentiation and not the other way around, at least for UCP2. This was important, to show causation for metabolic changes in driving the process of cell differentiation. However, it still leaves open the key question of exactly how manipulating cell metabolism controls cell differentiation, a question we are working hard to address.”
Since metabolism in pluripotent stem cells and cancer cells appear quite similar, Teitell said the finding could potentially be used to target UCP2 in malignant tumors that express it, of which there are many. Silencing UCP2 could force cancer cells to respire, which might impair their ability to grow quickly.
The study was supported in part by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, an Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research training grant, the National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Research Resources.
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. To learn more about the center, visit our web site at http://www.stemcell.ucla.edu.
Further reports about: > Broad Institute > Human vaccine > Medicine > Regenerative Therapien > Stem cell innovation > UCLA > UCP2 > cancer cells > carbon dioxide > cell death > cell function > cell type > clinical application > embryonic stem > embryonic stem cell > energy generation > energy production > human embryonic stem cell > mechanism > metabolism > pluripotent > pluripotent stem > pluripotent stem cells > power plant > stem cell research > stem cells
New technique to determine protein structures may solve biomedical puzzles
11.12.2019 | Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
NTU Singapore scientists convert plastics into useful chemicals using su
11.12.2019 | Nanyang Technological University
In a joint experimental and theoretical work performed at the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, an international team of physicists detected for the first time an orbital crossing in the highly charged ion Pr⁹⁺. Optical spectra were recorded employing an electron beam ion trap and analysed with the aid of atomic structure calculations. A proposed nHz-wide transition has been identified and its energy was determined with high precision. Theory predicts a very high sensitivity to new physics and extremely low susceptibility to external perturbations for this “clock line” making it a unique candidate for proposed precision studies.
Laser spectroscopy of neutral atoms and singly charged ions has reached astonishing precision by merit of a chain of technological advances during the past...
The ability to investigate the dynamics of single particle at the nano-scale and femtosecond level remained an unfathomed dream for years. It was not until the dawn of the 21st century that nanotechnology and femtoscience gradually merged together and the first ultrafast microscopy of individual quantum dots (QDs) and molecules was accomplished.
Ultrafast microscopy studies entirely rely on detecting nanoparticles or single molecules with luminescence techniques, which require efficient emitters to...
Graphene, a two-dimensional structure made of carbon, is a material with excellent mechanical, electronic and optical properties. However, it did not seem suitable for magnetic applications. Together with international partners, Empa researchers have now succeeded in synthesizing a unique nanographene predicted in the 1970s, which conclusively demonstrates that carbon in very specific forms has magnetic properties that could permit future spintronic applications. The results have just been published in the renowned journal Nature Nanotechnology.
Depending on the shape and orientation of their edges, graphene nanostructures (also known as nanographenes) can have very different properties – for example,...
Using a clever technique that causes unruly crystals of iron selenide to snap into alignment, Rice University physicists have drawn a detailed map that reveals...
University of Texas and MIT researchers create virtual UAVs that can predict vehicle health, enable autonomous decision-making
In the not too distant future, we can expect to see our skies filled with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) delivering packages, maybe even people, from location...
03.12.2019 | Event News
15.11.2019 | Event News
15.11.2019 | Event News
11.12.2019 | Materials Sciences
11.12.2019 | Information Technology
11.12.2019 | Life Sciences