Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unearthing King Tet: Key protein influences stem cell fate

Date:
July 20, 2010
Source:
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Summary:
Researchers have discovered that a protein called Tet 1 helps stem cells renew themselves and stay pluripotent -- able to become any type of cell in the body.

Shown are two mouse embryos at the blastocyst stage. The left is a control embryo and the right is an embryo where Tet1 is depleted at one of the two cells at two-cell stage.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of North Carolina School of Medicine

Take a skin cell from a patient with Type 1 diabetes. Strip out everything that made it a skin cell, then reprogram it to grow into a colony of pancreatic beta cells. Implant these into your patient and voilà! She's producing her own insulin like a pro.

This type of personalized therapy is the ultimate goal of most stem cell research. But to reliably achieve that goal for treating diabetes and other diseases, there's a whole network of genes, proteins and miniscule chemical reactions to decipher first.

Findings published in the journal Nature put us a step closer to untangling that web. UNC biochemist Yi Zhang, PhD and his team have discovered that a protein called Tet 1 helps stem cells renew themselves and stay pluripotent -- able to become any type of cell in the body.

"This may be one component of a cocktail to reprogram a specialized cell to "go back" to the undifferentiated, embryonic stem cell state," said Zhang, Kenan distinguished professor of biochemistry and biophysics and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. "Then you can differentiate it into whatever cell type you want." He is also a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Both humans and mice have Tet proteins. Observing how Tet proteins operate in colonies of mouse embryonic stem cells, Zhang's team found that the proteins activate a gene called Nanog, which helps stem cells reproduce themselves and keep their pluripotency.

"There are many genes that are important for maintaining embryonic stem cells' status," said Zhang. "We will not understand the whole thing until we identify all the important parts of the network. From that standpoint, we have uncovered another factor in the network."

In addition to observing cell colonies, the team examined the effects of Tet1 protein in "real life" by seeing how a mouse embryo would develop if the Tet1 protein was depleted. They found that when Tet1 is depleted in one cell of the two-cell embryo, cells derived from the Tet1 depleted cells are prone to become trophoblast cells, instead of inner cell mass, from which the pluripotent stem cells are derived.

The Tet1 protein appears to act as an enzyme to maintain the Nanog gene at an active state. When the gene is turned on, the cell maintains its identity as a stem cell. When it's turned off, the cell starts to lose its "stemness." Tet1 performs its function by regulating a modification on DNA, one kind of epigenetic modification. Effects like this are known as epigenetic changes, and they're the reason that various types of cells in the body perform different functions even though they're all powered by the same genetic code. It's all about which genes are activated -- and when.

"The more we understand the machinery that modifies DNA, we'll understand more about cell fate determination," said Zhang. Ultimately, with enough information about Tet proteins and other factors, "we will be able to use that knowledge to reprogram cells -- to change their function," he said.

The paper's co-authors include UNC postdoctoral researchers Shinsuke Ito, Ana D'Alessio, Olena Taranova and Kwonho Hong. Lawrence Sowers is the Associate Dean of medicine at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine. The study was supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Shinsuke Ito, Ana C. D%u2019Alessio, Olena V. Taranova, Kwonho Hong, Lawrence C. Sowers & Yi Zhang. Role of Tet proteins in 5mC to 5hmC conversion, ES-cell self-renewal and inner cell mass specification. Nature, 2010; DOI: 10.1038/nature09303

Cite This Page:

University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Unearthing King Tet: Key protein influences stem cell fate." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100718204803.htm>.
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. (2010, July 20). Unearthing King Tet: Key protein influences stem cell fate. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100718204803.htm
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Unearthing King Tet: Key protein influences stem cell fate." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100718204803.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) — A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up new guidelines for health workers taking care of patients infected with Ebola. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) — Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
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