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Isolation Of A New Gene Family Essential For Early Development

Date:
August 23, 2007
Source:
University of Copenhagen
Summary:
Researchers have identified new gene family essential for embryonic development. The family controls the expression of genes crucial for stem cell differentiation, and the results may contribute significantly to the understanding of cancer development. The new findings are in line with a number of recent publications that support the idea that differentiation may not entirely be a "one-way process", and may have impact on the therapeutic use of stem cells for the treatment of various genetic diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's disease.

The pictures to the left show a normally developed gonad and how oocytes (eggs) are situated. At the pic-tures to the right are shown examples of defects in the gonads and how the oocytes accumulate due to the lack of one of the C. elegans JMJD3 proteins.
Credit: Helin group, University of Cogenhagen

Researchers at BRIC, University of Copenhagen, have identified a new gene family (UTX-JMJD3) essential for embryonic development. The family controls the expression of genes crucial for stem cell maintenance and differentiation, and the results may contribute significantly to the understanding of the development of cancer.

The results were recently published in Nature, and they follows up on 2 other high-impact articles on related gene families published in Nature and Cell by the same research group within the last year.

How embryonic stem cells work All organisms consist of a number of different cell types each producing different proteins. The nerve cells produce proteins necessary for the nerve cell function; the muscle cells proteins necessary for the muscle function and so on. All these specialised cells originate from the same cell type -- the embryonic stem cells. In a highly controlled process called differentiation, the stem cells are induced to become specialised cells.

Gene family helps regulate stem cell differentiation The BRIC researchers have now identified a new gene family, which by modifying gene expression is essential for the regulation of the differentiation process. These results have been obtained by using both human and mouse stem cells, as well as by studying the devel-opment of the round worm, C. elegans.

The new findings are in line with a number of recent publications that support the idea that differentiation may not entirely be a "one-way process", and may have impact on the therapeutic use of stem cells for the treatment of various genetic diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's disease.

The research was carried out by a team led by Professor Kristian Helin at the new established Centre for Epigenetics at BRIC, Univer-sity of Copenhagen, in cooperation with researchers at the University of Edinburgh, and the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of Copenhagen. "Isolation Of A New Gene Family Essential For Early Development." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 August 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070822132150.htm>.
University of Copenhagen. (2007, August 23). Isolation Of A New Gene Family Essential For Early Development. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070822132150.htm
University of Copenhagen. "Isolation Of A New Gene Family Essential For Early Development." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070822132150.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

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