Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientist identifies protein molecule used to maintain adult stem cells in fruit flies

Date:
April 22, 2013
Source:
University of California - Santa Barbara
Summary:
Understanding exactly how stem cells form into specific organs and tissues is the holy grail of regenerative medicine. Now a researcher has added to that body of knowledge by determining how stem cells produce different types of "daughter" cells in Drosophila (fruit flies).

This is a schematic drawing of a Drosophila ovariole and a magnified germanium.
Credit: UCSB

Understanding exactly how stem cells form into specific organs and tissues is the holy grail of regenerative medicine. Now a UC Santa Barbara researcher has added to that body of knowledge by determining how stem cells produce different types of "daughter" cells in Drosophila (fruit flies). T

Related Articles


he findings appear today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Denise Montell, Duggan Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at UCSB, and colleagues studied the ovaries of fruit flies in order to see stem cells in their natural environment. Because these organisms are excellent models for understanding stem cell biology, researchers were able to shed light on the earliest stages of follicle cell differentiation, a previously poorly understood area of developmental biology. "It is clear that the fundamental principles that control cell behavior in simple animals are conserved and control the behavior of our cells as well," she said. "There is so much we can learn by studying simple organisms."

Using a nuclear protein expressed in follicle stem cells (FSCs), the researchers found that castor, which plays an important role in specifying which types of brain cells are produced during embryonic development, also helps maintain FSCs throughout the life of the animal. "Having identified this important protein molecule in fruit flies, we can test whether the human version of the protein is important for stem cells and their daughters as well," said Montell. "The more we know about the molecules that govern stem cell behavior, the closer we will get to controlling these cells."

Her research team placed the evolutionarily conserved castor (Cas) gene, which encodes a zinc finger protein, in a genetic circuit with two other evolutionarily conserved genes, hedgehog (Hh) and eyes absent (Eya), to determine the fates of specific cell progeny (daughters). What's more, they identified Cas as a critical, tissue-specific target of Hh signaling, which not only plays a key role in maintaining follicle stem cells but also assists in the diversification of their progeny.

The study also shows that complementary patterns of Cas and Eya reveal the gradual differentiation of polar and stalk precursor cells at the earliest stages of their development. In addition, it provides a marker for cell fates and insight into the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which FSC progeny diverge into distinct fates.

Follicle cells undergo a binary choice during early differentiation. Those that turn into specialized cells found at the poles of egg chambers go on to make two cell types: polar and stalk. The three genes, Cas, Eya and Hh, work in various combinations, sometimes repressively, to determine which types of cells are formed. Cas is required for polar and stalk cell fate specification, while Eya is a negative regulator of these cells' fate. Hh is necessary for Cas to be expressed, and Hh signaling is essential to repress Eya.

"If you just had one of these markers, it was hard to tell what's going on," explained Montell. "All the cells looked the same and you had no idea when or how the process occurred. But now we can actually see how the cells acquire different identities."

Hh also plays many roles in embryonic development, adult homeostasis, birth defects, and cancer. Hh antagonists are currently in clinical trials for the treatment of several types of cancer. However, Hh signaling is important in so many different cell types and tissues that systemic delivery of such inhibitors may cause serious side effects. Therefore identifying the essential, tissue-specific effectors of Hh has the potential to lead to the identification of more specific therapeutic targets.

Someday, targeted inhibition of Hh signaling may be effective in the treatment and prevention of many types of human cancers.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Santa Barbara. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yu-Chiuan Chang, Anna C.-C. Jang, Cheng-Han Lin, and Denise J. Montell. Castor is required for Hedgehog-dependent cell-fate specification and follicle stem cell maintenance in Drosophila oogenesis. PNAS, April 22, 2013 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1300725110

Cite This Page:

University of California - Santa Barbara. "Scientist identifies protein molecule used to maintain adult stem cells in fruit flies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130422154949.htm>.
University of California - Santa Barbara. (2013, April 22). Scientist identifies protein molecule used to maintain adult stem cells in fruit flies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130422154949.htm
University of California - Santa Barbara. "Scientist identifies protein molecule used to maintain adult stem cells in fruit flies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130422154949.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Bupa Eyes India Healthcare Opportunities

Bupa Eyes India Healthcare Opportunities

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) Bupa is hoping to expand in India&apos;s fast-growing health insurance market, once a rule change on foreign investment is implemented. The British private healthcare group&apos;s CEO tells Grace Pascoe why it&apos;s so keen on the new opportunity. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Releases Last Ebola Patient, But Threat Remains

Liberia Releases Last Ebola Patient, But Threat Remains

Newsy (Mar. 5, 2015) Liberia&apos;s last Ebola patient has been released, and the country hasn&apos;t recorded a new case in a week. However, fears of another outbreak still exist. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in Your Pocket Is Getting Smarter

Doctor in Your Pocket Is Getting Smarter

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) Mobile apps are turning smartphones into a personal doctors, with users able to measure heart rate, blood pressure and even blood sugar. But will it change our behaviour? Ivor Bennett reports from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
AbbVie Inks $21B Deal To Buy Cancer Drugmaker Pharmacyclics

AbbVie Inks $21B Deal To Buy Cancer Drugmaker Pharmacyclics

Newsy (Mar. 5, 2015) AbbVie announced Wednesday it will buy cancer drugmaker Pharmacyclics in a $21 billion deal. Video provided by Newsy
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