Japanese scientists explore pluripotency

May 23, 2007

Japanese scientists have discovered how pluripotency -- the ability of stem cells to differentiate into other cell types -- is regulated.

Understanding how stem cells maintain pluripotent has involved the characterization of a multitude of transcription factors -- the proteins that determine whether a specific gene is expressed or not.

Pluripotency in embryonic stem cells was thought to be controlled primarily by the transcription factors Oct3/4 and Sox2, as these proteins were believed to activate Oct-Sox enhancers, which are regulatory regions that determine expression of pluripotent stem cell-specific genes.

Shinji Masui and colleagues at the International Medical Center of Japan used mutant mice lacking the Sox2 gene to show although Sox2 is needed for stem cell pluripotency, it is not required for the enhancers to function and, in fact, governs the expression of Oct3/4.

They also demonstrated the regulation is indirect, as Sox2 controls the expression of a number of transcription factors that in turn regulate Oct3/4 expression.

The researchers said their findings represent another small step toward a complete understanding of stem cell biology.

The research appears in the June issue of Nature Cell Biology.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: Factor found to balance medically useful stem cell qualities

Related Stories

Reprogramming the oocyte

August 26, 2015

(Phys.org)—Among other things, the egg is optimized to process the sperm genome. The cytoplasmic factors that make this possible also give the egg the ability to reprogram the nuclei from other kinds of cells if these nuclei ...

Recommended for you

NASA's space-station resupply missions to relaunch

November 29, 2015

NASA's commercial space program returns to flight this week as one of its private cargo haulers, Orbital ATK, is to launch its first supply shipment to the International Space Station in more than 13 months.

CERN collides heavy nuclei at new record high energy

November 25, 2015

The world's most powerful accelerator, the 27 km long Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operating at CERN in Geneva established collisions between lead nuclei, this morning, at the highest energies ever. The LHC has been colliding ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.