Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Identify "Genetic Signature" Of Stem Cells

Date:
September 13, 2002
Source:
Princeton University
Summary:
Princeton University scientists have taken a major step toward identifying the "genetic signature" of stem cells, discovering a subset of genes whose products may give these cells their unique traits.

Princeton University scientists have taken a major step toward identifying the "genetic signature" of stem cells, discovering a subset of genes whose products may give these cells their unique traits. The results promise to become an important resource to biologists as well as medical researchers who are trying to harness stem cells as therapies for neurological diseases, birth defects, heart disease, blood cancers and many other disorders.

In two papers published this week, Princeton biologists identified 283 genes that are common to several of the most important types of stem cells, as well as about 4,000 genes that are active in the surrounding tissues that nurture stem cells and give them cues about how to behave. Databases of these genes have been published online and are freely available to anyone.

"The question we have been asking is: Can we identify the molecular parts list, or toolbox, that the stem cell has at its disposal?" said Ihor Lemischka, the senior author of one of the papers. "We found that there is a core set of molecular machinery that might be responsible for regulating the activities that make stem cells unique."

Currently scientists identify stem cells by the way they behave and by chemical markers on the cell surface. However, the genes that give rise to these characteristics remained largely unknown. A comprehensive catalog of stem cell genes could refine the identification process, as well as reveal the mechanisms that make the cells function as they do.

In one paper, published in the Sept. 12 online edition of Science, a group led by Lemischka looked at several kinds of stem cells, including embryonic stem cells and those of the blood and nervous systems, and identified a core set of genes that were common to all of them. They also compared mouse and human blood stem cells and noted a core gene set common to stem cells of both species.

"We wanted to know if there is such a thing as a generic stem cell molecular signature," said Lemischka. "In large part, we think there is, and that is what this paper shows."

The other paper, published Sept. 11 in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focused on the cells surrounding stem cells, known as the stem cell microenvironment. Previously, the researchers, led by Princeton biologist Kateri Moore, looked at more than 200 cell lines derived from mouse fetal livers and found one that was particularly effective supporting stem cells.

In the current paper, Moore's research team, which included scientists from the University of Pennsylvania and France, compared the genes active in the supportive cells to those in cells that did not support stem cells. They documented the activity of more than 4,000 genes in the stem cell supportive cells, but not in the others. Not all those genes are necessarily critical for supporting stem cells, but any that are required are almost certainly part of that group, said Moore.

"It was my feeling we just didn't know enough about these supportive cells," said Moore. "We needed to know a lot more about the basic biology." Such knowledge will be crucial in making widespread use of stem cells in medicine, she said.

Stem cells are master cells that serve as progenitors of the many kinds of tissue in the body. The most potent of these are embryonic stem cells, which are precursors of every tissue, from bones to nerves. Blood stem cells are more specialized, but still are a wellspring; a single one can spawn all the red and white blood cells, platelets and other constituents of blood.

The hallmark of all stem cells is that, as they multiply, they strike a balance between replenishing their own numbers and spawning mature cells dedicated to specific tasks. The cues that determine whether a stem cell replaces itself or produces a more specialized offspring come from both within and from outside of the cell, said Lemischka.

"That is why we think these papers are so complementary," he said. "They form the Princeton group's philosophy for how to proceed in stem cell biology. You have to do it simultaneously from the point of view of the stem cell and point of view of the microenvironment in which the stem cell resides."

The researchers have begun to combine their approaches, analyzing gene activity of the stem cells and the supportive cells at the same time. They noted, however, that it will take the interactive efforts of many groups to pin down the function of each gene. "We hope other groups will take up this challenge and share what they learn," said Lemischka.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Princeton University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Princeton University. "Scientists Identify "Genetic Signature" Of Stem Cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 September 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/09/020913065037.htm>.
Princeton University. (2002, September 13). Scientists Identify "Genetic Signature" Of Stem Cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/09/020913065037.htm
Princeton University. "Scientists Identify "Genetic Signature" Of Stem Cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/09/020913065037.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

AFP (July 24, 2014) America's death penalty debate raged Thursday after it took nearly two hours for Arizona to execute a prisoner who lost a Supreme Court battle challenging the experimental lethal drug cocktail. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins