Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Understanding the beginnings of embryonic stem cells helps predict the future

Date:
October 13, 2011
Source:
Baylor College of Medicine
Summary:
Scientists have shown that laboratory-grown cells express a protein called Blimp1, which represses differentiation to somatic or regular tissue cells during germ cell development. Studies of these cells show that they also express other genes associated with early germ cell specification.

Scientists have shown that laboratory-grown cells express a protein called Blimp1, which represses differentiation to somatic or regular tissue cells during germ cell development. Studies of these cells show that they also express other genes associated with early germ cell specification.

Ordinarily, embryonic stem cells exist only a day or two as they begin the formation of the embryo itself. Then they are gone.

In the laboratory dish, however, they act more like perpetual stem cells -- renewing themselves and exhibiting the ability to form cells of almost any type, a status called totipotency.

Dr. Thomas Zwaka, associate professor in the Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center at Baylor College of Medicine, and his colleagues here and abroad showed that laboratory-grown cells express a protein called Blimp1, which represses differentiation to somatic or regular tissue cells during germ cell development. Studies of these cells show that they also express other genes associated with early germ cell specification.

A report on their work published online October 13 in the journal Current Biology. It will appear in the October 25 print edition of the journal.

"What are embryonic stem cells?" said Zwaka, who is also part of the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at BCM, Texas Children's Hospital and The Methodist Hospital. "It is quite a surprise that we have them. In the embryo, there is a mass of cells that eventually form the embryo, but they do not persist. They do not have a program built in that allows them to persist."

To study this, he examined mice. If you put the mass of cells in a Petri dish in the laboratory, they act as thought they are stem cells with the ability for self renewal and totipotency -- the ability to become almost any kind of cell.

Understanding what happens early in development of embryonic stem cells in the laboratory might help make the process of growing them and another, new kind of stem cell called induced pluripotent stem cells -- cells with the potential of becoming many different kinds of tissues that are derived from somatic or adult cells.

"These induced pluripotent stem cells are poorly understood," said Zwaka. "If we know what is happening when we derive embryonic stem cells in the laboratory, it will inform us when we make induced pluripotent stem cells. The end product is similar."

The process of making the induced pluripotent stem cells is noisy and random, he said.

"Every time, the clones look different and emerge at different time points," said Zwaka. By contrast, embryonic development is like clockwork, with events occurring at the same point with each embryo. However, development of embryonic stem cells in the laboratory becomes more disorganized as time goes on.

In the laboratory dish, the mouse embryo continues to develop at a fairly organized rate for two or three days, but when the single cells are separated and grown singly, the embryonic stem cells begin to emerge. Only a tiny subset -- roughly 1 percent -- of the cells become an embryonic stem cell in the laboratory."

"We found that these cells (from the embryonic stem cells come) resemble in almost every feature an early germ cell (primordial germ cell)," he said. (Primordial germ cells are the source of gametes -- eggs and sperm.)

"It seems that these seeming germ cells are the cells that make the embryonic stem cells in culture," he said.

"Germ cells in the embryo are unique and pluripotent (able to become many different kinds of cells) and have a very sophisticated program in them that protects the from becoming somatic cells (specific tissue cells)," he said. "They retain their primitive state." Blimp1 is a master regulator of germ cells.

In the future, he said, he hopes that investigators in both fields can collaborate and learn from one another.

Others who took part in this research include Li-Fang Chua of BCM, M. Azim Surani of the Wellcome Trust Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute at the University of Cambridge, and Rudolf Jaenisch of Whitehead Institute for BiomedicaI Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

Funding for this work came from the Huffington Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

For more information on basic science research at Baylor College of Medicine, please go to From the Lab at Baylor College of Medicine.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Baylor College of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Li-Fang Chu, M. Azim Surani, Rudolf Jaenisch, Thomas P. Zwaka. Blimp1 Expression Predicts Embryonic Stem Cell Development In Vitro. Current Biology, 13 October 2011 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.09.010

Cite This Page:

Baylor College of Medicine. "Understanding the beginnings of embryonic stem cells helps predict the future." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111013121501.htm>.
Baylor College of Medicine. (2011, October 13). Understanding the beginnings of embryonic stem cells helps predict the future. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111013121501.htm
Baylor College of Medicine. "Understanding the beginnings of embryonic stem cells helps predict the future." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111013121501.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A Florida doctor who helped fight the expanding Ebola outbreak in West Africa says the disease can be stopped, but only if nations quickly step up their response and make border control a priority. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) More than 100 tons of medical supplies were sent to West Africa on Saturday, but aid workers say the global response is still sluggish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) 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