Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Breakthrough in the understanding of embryonic stem cells

Date:
November 30, 2012
Source:
Trinity College Dublin
Summary:
A significant breakthrough in the understanding of embryonic stem cells has been made. New research describes the process whereby genes that are 'on' in embryonic stem cells are switched 'off'. This process is essential in order to convert embryonic stem cells into different cell types such as neurons, blood or heart cells and therefore represents an important breakthrough in the area of regenerative medicine.

A significant breakthrough in the understanding of embryonic stem cells has been made by scientists from the Smurfit Institute of Genetics at Trinity College Dublin. The Trinity research group led by Dr Adrian Bracken and funded by Science Foundation Ireland, has just published their findings in the journal, Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

The new research describes the process whereby genes that are 'on' in embryonic stem cells are switched 'off'. This process is essential in order to convert embryonic stem cells into different cell types such as neurons, blood or heart cells and therefore represents an important breakthrough in the area of regenerative medicine.

The research encompasses both embryonic stem cell research and epigenetics. Embryonic stem cell research is focused on a particular type of cell that is capable of generating the various tissues in the body; for example, muscle, heart or brain. It is particularly relevant due to its potential for regenerating diseased tissues and organs and for the treatment of a variety of conditions including Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and spinal cord injury

Epigenetics explains how cells in your body with exactly the same genes can be so different functionally. For example, a neuron and a muscle cell look and act very differently, yet contain exactly the same genes. The study of epigenetics has helped us understand that every type of cell has its own unique pattern of genes that are either switched 'on' or 'off'. Different types of cells arise therefore due to these differences.

This new research explores the role of a protein termed a ‘Polycomb group protein’ called PHF19 in mouse embryonic stem cells. Gerard Brien, the lead author on the paper, and PhD student in the laboratory of Dr. Adrian Bracken demonstrated that without PHF19, embryonic stem cells are incapable of generating specialised cells such as those of the heart, lung or brain. He next established that PHF19 plays a critical role in switching the embryonic stem cell genes from an 'on' to an 'off' state during conversion into specialised cells. PHF19 does this by reading an ‘epigenetic mark’ called H3K36me3, which is only found on genes that are 'on'. It then recruits additional ‘Polycomb’ and other proteins, which replace H3K36me3 with another mark, H3K27me3, that is found on genes that are 'off'.

Commenting on the findings, Dr. Bracken stated: “This discovery about PHF19 is an important step forward in our understanding of how stem cells specialise. In addition to its relevance in regenerative medicine, it may also have implications in future cancer therapies. We are also studying a related ‘Polycomb group protein’ called EZH2, which is mutated in lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. Several new drugs have been developed to target EZH2 and treat these patients. Our new results suggest that these patients could also be treated by inhibitors of PHF19. This ongoing work is supported by funding from Science Foundation Ireland”.

Related Articles



Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Gerard L Brien, Guillermo Gambero, David J O'Connell, Emilia Jerman, Siobhαn A Turner, Chris M Egan, Eiseart J Dunne, Maike C Jurgens, Kieran Wynne, Lianhua Piao, Amanda J Lohan, Neil Ferguson, Xiaobing Shi, Krishna M Sinha, Brendan J Loftus, Gerard Cagney, Adrian P Bracken. Polycomb PHF19 binds H3K36me3 and recruits PRC2 and demethylase NO66 to embryonic stem cell genes during differentiation. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2449

Cite This Page:

Trinity College Dublin. "Breakthrough in the understanding of embryonic stem cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121130110547.htm>.
Trinity College Dublin. (2012, November 30). Breakthrough in the understanding of embryonic stem cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121130110547.htm
Trinity College Dublin. "Breakthrough in the understanding of embryonic stem cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121130110547.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
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