Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Erg gene key to blood stem cell 'self-renewal'

Date:
February 22, 2011
Source:
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Summary:
Scientists have begun to unravel how blood stem cells regenerate themselves, identifying a key gene required for the process. The discovery that the Erg gene is vitally important to blood stem cells' unique ability to self-renew could give scientists new opportunities to use blood stem cells for tissue repair, transplantation and other therapeutic applications.

Dr. Samir Taoudi from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia, has identified a key gene involved in blood stem cells' unique ability to self-renew.
Credit: Czesia Markiewicz, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

Scientists from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have begun to unravel how blood stem cells regenerate themselves, identifying a key gene required for the process.

The discovery that the Erg gene is vitally important to blood stem cells' unique ability to self-renew could give scientists new opportunities to use blood stem cells for tissue repair, transplantation and other therapeutic applications.

Professor Doug Hilton, Dr Samir Taoudi and colleagues from the institute's Molecular Medicine and Cancer and Haematology divisions led the study. Dr Taoudi said the research aimed to understand how blood stem cells are made.

"One of the key features of blood stem cells, one that could be exploited for therapeutic use, is their ability to regenerate or renew themselves," Dr Taoudi said. "However, relatively little is known about how this occurs, or the molecular pathways that specifically control regeneration."

Blood stem cells are required to produce and maintain the blood system throughout an organism's lifetime. They are multipotent cells, meaning they are able to form any cell of the blood system (but not other cells), and they self-renew, so they are a source of endless supply. However, one major barrier to their therapeutic use is that the cells can only be isolated in numbers too low for practical use and efforts to expand the number of cells often causes them to turn into more mature cells.

"At the moment, if you take stem cells from a person and try to expand them, many of the stem cells lose their ability to regenerate," Dr Taoudi said. "The practical aim of our research is to find ways in which you could take stem cells collected from bone marrow or cord blood and 'switch on' expression of particular sets of genes, encouraging the stem cells to expand, essentially creating your own endless supply of blood stem cells."

Institute researchers had previously discovered that ERG was vital for the proper function of adult blood stem cells. They decided to look at blood stem cells in a developing embryo, a time when the cells are particularly active, to determine ERG's role in stem cell production and maintenance.

"We found that during development, ERG was not needed for the original blood stem cells to be made, or to produce mature blood cells," Dr Taoudi said. "But without ERG, these new blood stem cells rapidly decreased as they divided to produce more blood, so that they were almost completely exhausted by the time the mouse was born."

Further testing revealed that two other genes important in embryonic development, GATA2 and RUNX1, were controlled by ERG at the blood producing stage of development.

"These genes are called transcription factors, they are the 'switches' that turn on and off other genes," Dr Taoudi said. "Individually, these genes are not essential for regeneration, but if you lose both, the stem cells are quickly exhausted. This is a key part of the puzzle, but we will continue to work to find out how these genes directly control self-renewal, and the signals that actually tell the stem cell to regenerate."

Dr Taoudi said that although the finding had promise for the future therapeutic use of blood stem cells, there was still a lot of work to be done.

"We have found part of the pathway required for the expansion of blood stem cells under normal conditions, but from a translation perspective, we still need to establish whether increasing expression of these genes will actually lead to expansion in a culture dish," he said.

The study, published in the Feb. 1 edition of Genes and Development, was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Australian Cancer Research Foundation, the Australian Stem Cell Centre, the Australian Research Council, the Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation and the Victorian Government.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Taoudi, T. Bee, A. Hilton, K. Knezevic, J. Scott, T. A. Willson, C. Collin, T. Thomas, A. K. Voss, B. T. Kile, W. S. Alexander, J. E. Pimanda, D. J. Hilton. ERG dependence distinguishes developmental control of hematopoietic stem cell maintenance from hematopoietic specification. Genes & Development, 2011; 25 (3): 251 DOI: 10.1101/gad.2009211

Cite This Page:

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. "Erg gene key to blood stem cell 'self-renewal'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110216110542.htm>.
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. (2011, February 22). Erg gene key to blood stem cell 'self-renewal'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110216110542.htm
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. "Erg gene key to blood stem cell 'self-renewal'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110216110542.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Predicting Heart Transplant Rejection With a Blood Test

Predicting Heart Transplant Rejection With a Blood Test

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Now a new approach to rejection of donor organs could change the way doctors predict transplant rejection…without expensive, invasive procedures. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Better Braces That Vibrate

Better Braces That Vibrate

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) The length of time you have to keep your braces on could be cut in half thanks to a new device that speeds up the process. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone App Tracks Your Heart Rate

Smartphone App Tracks Your Heart Rate

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) A new app that can track your heart rate 24/7 is available for download in your app store and its convenience could save your life. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stroke in Young Adults

Stroke in Young Adults

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) A stroke can happen at any time and affect anyone regardless of age. This mother chose to give her son independence and continue to live a normal life after he had a stroke at 18 years old. 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:
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