Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Protein switch dictates cellular fate: Stem cell or neuron

Date:
February 13, 2014
Source:
University of California, San Diego Health Sciences
Summary:
Researchers have discovered that a well-known protein has a new function: It acts in a biological circuit to determine whether an immature neural cell remains in a stem-like state or proceeds to become a functional neuron.

Human neural progenitor cells isolated under selective culture conditions from the developing human brain and directed through lineage differentiation. Neural progenitor cells are stained green; differentiated astrocytes are orange. Nuclei are stained blue.
Credit: Image courtesy of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered that a well-known protein has a new function: It acts in a biological circuit to determine whether an immature neural cell remains in a stem-like state or proceeds to become a functional neuron.

The findings, published in the February 13 online issue of Cell Reports, more fully illuminate a fundamental but still poorly understood cellular act -- and may have significant implications for future development of new therapies for specific neurological disorders, including autism and schizophrenia.

Postdoctoral fellow Chih-Hong Lou, working with principal investigator Miles F. Wilkinson, PhD, professor in the Department of Reproductive Medicine and a member of the UC San Diego Institute for Genomic Medicine, and other colleagues, discovered that this critical biological decision is controlled by UPF1, a protein essential for the nonsense-mediated RNA decay (NMD) pathway.

NMD was previously established to have two broad roles. First, it is a quality control mechanism used by cells to eliminate faulty messenger RNA (mRNA) -- molecules that help transcribe genetic information into the construction of proteins essential to life. Second, it degrades a specific group of normal mRNAs. The latter function of NMD has been hypothesized to be physiologically important, but until now it had not been clear whether this is the case.

Wilkinson and colleagues discovered that in concert with a special class of RNAs called microRNA, UPF1 acts as a molecular switch to determine when immature (non-functional) neural cells differentiate into non-dividing (functional) neurons. Specifically, UPF1 triggers the decay of a particular mRNA that encodes for a protein in the TGF-Β signaling pathway that promotes neural differentiation. By degrading that mRNA, the encoded protein fails to be produced and neural differentiation is prevented. Thus, Lou and colleagues identified for the first time a molecular circuit in which NMD acts to drive a normal biological response.

NMD also promotes the decay of mRNAs encoding proliferation inhibitors, which Wilkinson said may explain why NMD stimulates the proliferative state characteristic of stem cells.

"There are many potential clinical ramifications for these findings," Wilkinson said. "One is that by promoting the stem-like state, NMD may be useful for reprogramming differentiated cells into stem cells more efficiently.

"Another implication follows from the finding that NMD is vital to the normal development of the brain in diverse species, including humans. Humans with deficiencies in NMD have intellectual disability and often also have schizophrenia and autism. Therapies to enhance NMD in affected individuals could be useful in restoring the correct balance of stem cells and differentiated neurons and thereby help restore normal brain function."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California, San Diego Health Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. ChihH. Lou, Ada Shao, EleenY. Shum, JoshL. Espinoza, Lulu Huang, Rachid Karam, MilesF. Wilkinson. Posttranscriptional Control of the Stem Cell and Neurogenic Programs by the Nonsense-Mediated RNA Decay Pathway. Cell Reports, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.01.028

Cite This Page:

University of California, San Diego Health Sciences. "Protein switch dictates cellular fate: Stem cell or neuron." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140213121632.htm>.
University of California, San Diego Health Sciences. (2014, February 13). Protein switch dictates cellular fate: Stem cell or neuron. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140213121632.htm
University of California, San Diego Health Sciences. "Protein switch dictates cellular fate: Stem cell or neuron." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140213121632.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 22, 2014) Big pharma on the move as Novartis boss, Joe Jimenez, tells Reuters about plans to transform his company via an asset exchange with GSK, and Astra Zeneca shares surge on speculation that Pfizer is looking for a takeover. Joanna Partridge reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is given hands-on demonstrations Tuesday of some of the newest research from DARPA _ the military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. 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:
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