Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Login
Advanced Search

Search for
BioNews

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook




 

'Self-renewal' gene discovered in embryonic and adult stem cells

23 April 2007

By Heidi Nicholl

Appeared in BioNews 404

Researchers have identified the gene which controls the critical self-renewal function of stem cells. Both adult and embryonic stem cells are able to repeatedly renew themselves, which allows them to be grown up in large numbers in the laboratory before being differentiated into specific tissue types. Although both types of stem cell - adult and embryonic - are able to do this, embryonic stem cells are able to differentiate into a broader range of cell types than adult stem cells. A team of scientists led by Boris Reizis of Columbia University Medical Center in New York, working on mouse cells, found that the gene Zfx controls self-renewal in both embryonic stem cells and in haematopoietic stem cells - adult blood precursor cells. The researchers published their findings in the journal Cell.

Other genes have previously been found that promote self renewal in embryonic cells - Oct4, Nanog and Sox2 - but Zfx is the first to control the same function in both adult and embryonic stem cells. Reizis explained the importance of his team's finding saying, 'For quite a while, one outstanding question in the field was whether this self-renewal of embryonic stem cells and adult tissue-specific stem cells has a common molecular basis. Basically there were data both for it and against it, and overall it's one big controversy'. Reizis thinks that the finding is very likely to also hold true in humans and may enable scientists to boost the self-renewal potential of different types of stem cells for use in novel medical therapies.

Last year, UK and US researchers showed that the protein made by the Nanog gene is key to the 'reprogramming' that helps transform the genetic material of an adult cell to an embryonic state during the cloning process (SCNT). Many stem cell researchers feel the key to developing new therapies lies in unlocking the mechanisms through which embryonic stem cells achieve their versatility and self-renewing abilities, so that these processes can be replicated in other types of cells growing in the laboratory.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Gene plays key role in embryonic, adult stem cells
Yahoo Daily News | 19 April 2007
 

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

19 June 2006 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
UK and US researchers say they are close to identifying a 'cocktail' of proteins that could convert adult cells into embryonic-like stem cells capable of growing into any type of body tissue. Scientists based at Edinburgh University have shown that a protein called 'Nanog' is key...
02 June 2003 - by BioNews 
Scientists from the Institute of Stem Cell Research (ISCR) in Edinburgh, Scotland and the Nara Institute of Science and Technology in Japan, announced independently last week that they have discovered a 'master gene' in embryonic stem (ES) cells. They believe that the gene is responsible for the 'pluripotency' (a unique...

HAVE YOUR SAY
Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


- click here to enquire about using this story.

Published by the Progress Educational Trust
Advertise your products and services HERE - click for further details

Good Fundraising Code

Become a Friend of PET HERE and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation