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Understanding Differentiation In Human Embryonic Stem Cells

Date:
October 25, 2007
Source:
Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine
Summary:
Researchers have used an existing genetic tool to study how human embryonic stem cells self-renew. The researchers used "knockdown" technology to reduce the expression, and plasmid vectors to increase the expression of oct4, a gene known to be necessary for self renewal. Both procedures resulted in differentiation, but with similar patterns, unlike mouse ES cells that differentiate into a different cell types with oct4 up-and down-regulation.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota's Stem Cell Institute have described how an existing genetic tool can be used to study how human embryonic stem cells differentiate.

Researchers know very little about how human embryonic stem cells (hESC) self-renew. To fully understand these cells' self renewal capacity and pluripotency, and their regulation, it is necessary to efficiently generate genetically modified cells and analyze the consequences of elevated and reduced expression of genes.

The researchers used "knockdown" technology to reduce the expression of oct4, a gene known to be necessary for self renewal of mouse and human embryonic stem cells. As seen in work done with mouse cells by knockdown and other genetic means, they showed that reducing the amount of oct4 in human ES cells induced differentiation. The researchers then used a plasmid vector to transiently increase levels of oct4 in hESC.

This also resulted in differentiation as expected, but with differentiation patterns similar to those seen with the knockdown. This was an unexpected result, because when expression of oct4 is up-regulated in mouse ES cells, they differentiate into a different type of cell than if the expression of oct4 is down-regulated.

The research team, led by the University of Minnesota's Meri Firpo, Ph.D., included gene therapy researchers at Los Angeles Children's Hospital, and developmental biologists at the University of Michigan.

"This suggests a key difference in the regulation of early development between mouse and human embryos" Firpo said. "While animal models are clearly important, this research shows that scientists need human models to truly understand what happens in early human development."

The research appears in the November 2007 issue of Experimental Biology and Medicine.


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The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine. "Understanding Differentiation In Human Embryonic Stem Cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 October 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071024093535.htm>.
Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine. (2007, October 25). Understanding Differentiation In Human Embryonic Stem Cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071024093535.htm
Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine. "Understanding Differentiation In Human Embryonic Stem Cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071024093535.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

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