Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New 'Control Knobs' For Stem Cells: Changes In Membrane Voltage Control Timing Of Differentiation

Date:
December 5, 2008
Source:
Tufts University
Summary:
Natural changes in voltage that occur across the membrane of adult human stem cells act as a signal to delay or accelerate the decision of a stem cell to differentiate into a specific cell type. This discovery gives scientists in regenerative medicine a new set of "control knobs" to use in ongoing efforts to shape the behavior of adult stem cells.

Natural changes in voltage that occur across the membrane of adult human stem cells are a powerful controlling factor in the process by which these stem cells differentiate, according to research published by Tufts University scientists.

Tufts doctoral student Sarah Sundelacruz, Professor of Biology Michael Levin, and Chair of Biomedical Engineering David L. Kaplan (corresponding author) published their paper "Membrane Potential Controls Adipogenic and Osteogenic Differentiation of Mesenchymal Stem Cells" in the November 17, 2008, issue of PLoS ONE.

"We have found that voltage changes act as a signal to delay or accelerate the decision of a stem cell to drop out of a stem state and differentiate into a specific cell type. This discovery gives scientists in regenerative medicine a new set of control knobs to use in ongoing efforts to shape the behavior of adult stem cells," said Levin. "In addition, by uncovering a new mechanism by which these cells are controlled in the human body, this research suggests potential future diagnostic applications."

Harnessing the potential of stem cells for applications such as wound healing and tissue regeneration is a tantalizing yet daunting task. Although many studies indicate that electrophysiology plays a crucial role in cell proliferation and differentiation, its functional role in stem cell biology is poorly understood.

The Tufts researchers studied the changes in membrane potential (voltage across the membrane) shown by human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) obtained from donor bone marrow as the hMSCs were differentiating into fat and bone cells. They found that hyperpolarization (increased difference between the voltage in the interior and exterior of a cell) was characteristic of differentiated cells compared with undifferentiated cells and that hMSCs show different membrane potential profiles during bone vs. fat differentiation.

To determine whether hyperpolarization was functionally required for differentiation, the scientists depolarized the hMSCs by exposing them either to high levels of extracellular potassium ions or to ouabain, a compound that blocks the transfer of ions in and out of cells. Both treatments disrupted the normal increase in negative voltage that occurs during differentiation and suppressed fat and bone cell differentiation markers.

In contrast, treatment with hyperpolarizing reagents up-regulated bone cell markers – indicating that voltage changes are not merely permissive for differentiation but can act as an instructive signal to either induce or inhibit differentiation.

More study is needed to determine whether hyperpolarization also determines which specific type of cell stem cells will differentiate into, according to the Tufts researchers.

Funding for the study came from the National Science Foundation through the Graduate Research Fellowship Program, the National Institutes of Health through the Tissue Engineering Resource Center, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Sundelacruz S, Levin M, Kaplan DL. Membrane Potential Controls Adipogenic and Osteogenic Differentiation of Mesenchymal Stem Cells. PLoS ONE, 2008; 3(11): e3737 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003737

Cite This Page:

Tufts University. "New 'Control Knobs' For Stem Cells: Changes In Membrane Voltage Control Timing Of Differentiation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081203101515.htm>.
Tufts University. (2008, December 5). New 'Control Knobs' For Stem Cells: Changes In Membrane Voltage Control Timing Of Differentiation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081203101515.htm
Tufts University. "New 'Control Knobs' For Stem Cells: Changes In Membrane Voltage Control Timing Of Differentiation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081203101515.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robotic Hair Restoration

Robotic Hair Restoration

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A new robotic procedure is changing the way we transplant hair. The ARTAS robot leaves no linear scarring and provides more natural results. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Insertable Cardiac Monitor

Insertable Cardiac Monitor

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A heart monitor the size of a paperclip that can save your life. The “Reveal Linq” allows a doctor to monitor patients with A-Fib on a continuous basis for up to 3 years! Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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