Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Trigger Cancer-like Response From Embryonic Stem Cells

Date:
October 14, 2008
Source:
Forsyth Institute
Summary:
Scientists have discovered a new control over embryonic stem cells' behavior. The researchers disrupted a natural bioelectrical mechanism within frog embryonic stem cells and trigged a cancer-like response, including increased cell growth, change in cell shape, and invasion of the major body organs. This research shows that electrical signals are a powerful control mechanism that can be used to modulate cell behavior.

Scientists from The Forsyth Institute, working with collaborators at Tufts and Tuebingen Universities, have discovered a new control over embryonic stem cells' behavior. The researchers disrupted a natural bioelectrical mechanism within frog embryonic stem cells and trigged a cancer-like response, including increased cell growth, change in cell shape, and invasion of the major body organs. This research shows that electrical signals are a powerful control mechanism that can be used to modulate cell behavior.

The team of Forsyth Institute scientists, led by Michael Levin, Ph.D., Director of the Forsyth Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology, have identified a new function for a potassium (KCNQ1) channel, mutations of which are known to be involved in human genetic diseases such as Romano-Ward and Jervell-Lange-Nielsen syndromes. The team interrupted the flow of potassium through KCNQ1 in parts of the Xenopus frog embryo. This resulted in a striking alteration of the behavior of one type of embryonic stem cell: the pigment cell lineage of the neural crest. When mutated, these pigment cells over-proliferate, spread out, and become highly invasive of blood vessels, liver, heart, and neural tube, leading to a deeply hyper-pigmented tadpole.

The body's natural biophysical signals, driven by ion transporter proteins and resulting in endogenous voltage gradients and electric fields, have been implicated in embryonic development and regeneration. The data in this study, which will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on October 13, 2008, have not only elucidated a novel role for the KCNQ1 channel in regulating key cell behaviors, but for the first time have also revealed the molecular identity of a biophysical switch by means of which neoplastic-like properties can be conferred upon a specific embryonic stem cell sub-population. These data reveal that key properties of embryonic stem cells can be controlled through bioelectrical signals, identify transmembrane voltage potential as a novel regulator of neural crest function in embryonic development, and demonstrate that potassium flows can be an important aspect of cellular environment, which is known to regulate both cancer and stem cells.

"In regenerative medicine, a key goal is to control the number, position, and type of cells," said the paper's first author, Junji Morokuma, Ph.D. "This research is especially exciting because it shows the importance of electrical signals for changing cell behavior, identifies a new role in developmental and cell biology for the KCNQ1 ion channel, and strengthens the link between stem cells and tumor cells. Added Doug Blackiston, Ph.D., paper co-author, "In the future, this work may lead to a greater understanding of the causes of cancer and ways to potentially halt its metastasis, as well as suggesting new techniques by which stem cells may be controlled in biomedical applications."

Michael Levin, Ph.D., is a Senior Member of the Staff in The Forsyth Institute and the Director of the Forsyth Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology. Through experimental approaches and mathematical modeling, Dr. Levin and his group examine the processes governing large-scale pattern formation and biological information storage during animal embryogenesis. The lab investigates mechanisms of signaling between cells and tissues that allow a living system to reliably generate and maintain a complex morphology. The Levin team studies these processes in the context of embryonic development and regeneration, with a particular focus on the biophysics of cell behavior.

This work was supported by grants from The National Institutes of Health, The American Heart Association, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the March of Dimes.

 


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Forsyth Institute. "Scientists Trigger Cancer-like Response From Embryonic Stem Cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081013171415.htm>.
Forsyth Institute. (2008, October 14). Scientists Trigger Cancer-like Response From Embryonic Stem Cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081013171415.htm
Forsyth Institute. "Scientists Trigger Cancer-like Response From Embryonic Stem Cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081013171415.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) — The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) — President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) — A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. 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