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'Big data' helps to discover key factors driving blood cell specification

Date:
February 25, 2016
Source:
University of Birmingham
Summary:
New research has identified key factors that drive blood cell development by recapitulating this process in a culture dish. Cells with the ability to give rise to blood are normally specified in the early embryo over a number of developmental stages and eventually form blood stem cells that are maintained for life and generate trillions of blood cells every day.
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New research led by researchers at the University of Birmingham, alongside teams from the universities of Cambridge, Leeds and Manchester, has identified key factors that drive blood cell development by recapitulating this process in a culture dish. Cells with the ability to give rise to blood are normally specified in the early embryo over a number of developmental stages and eventually form blood stem cells that are maintained for life and generate trillions of blood cells every day.

By studying six consecutive stages of development and adopting a 'big data' approach using computational analyses, the consortium, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, studied the behaviour of thousands of genes and the factors that regulate them.

Their findings, published in Developmental Cell, identified previous unknown regulators of blood cell development, significantly furthering our knowledge of this process. They also explained how regulatory elements in the DNA work together, driving gene expression and the switch of one developmental stage to another.

These data also revealed the minimum requirements for generating blood cells from an unrelated, cultured cell type, a method that is vital for the generation of patient-specific blood cells for regenerative medicine. To reach out to the scientific community and the interested public, group generated a website that allows unlimited data access.

The team believes that improved understanding of the key genes that drive the specification of blood cells and how they interact with each other will help to generate the stem cells that could be used to help patients suffering from blood disorders, such as myeloid leukemia.

Professor Constanze Bonifer from the University of Birmingham explained, "We examined how embryonic cells develop towards blood cells by collecting "multi-omics" data from measuring gene activity, changes in chromosome structure and the interaction of regulatory factors with the genes themselves. Our research shows in unprecedented detail how a vast network of interacting genes control blood cell development. It also shows how we can use such data to enhance our knowledge of this process"


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Materials provided by University of Birmingham. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Debbie K. Goode, Nadine Obier, M.S. Vijayabaskar, Michael Lie-A-Ling, Andrew J. Lilly, Rebecca Hannah, Monika Lichtinger, Kiran Batta, Magdalena Florkowska, Rahima Patel, Mairi Challinor, Kirstie Wallace, Jane Gilmour, Salam A. Assi, Pierre Cauchy, Maarten Hoogenkamp, David R. Westhead, Georges Lacaud, Valerie Kouskoff, Berthold Göttgens, Constanze Bonifer. Dynamic Gene Regulatory Networks Drive Hematopoietic Specification and Differentiation. Developmental Cell, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2016.01.024

Cite This Page:

University of Birmingham. "'Big data' helps to discover key factors driving blood cell specification." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 February 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160225135217.htm>.
University of Birmingham. (2016, February 25). 'Big data' helps to discover key factors driving blood cell specification. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160225135217.htm
University of Birmingham. "'Big data' helps to discover key factors driving blood cell specification." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160225135217.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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