Researchers discover important tool in understanding differentiation in human embryonic stem cells

Oct 24, 2007

Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Stem Cell Institute have described how an existing genetic tool can be used to study how human embryonic stem cells differentiate. The research appears in the November 2007 issue of Experimental Biology and Medicine.

Researchers know very little about how human embryonic stem cells (hESC) self-renew. To fully understand these cells’ self renewal capacity and pluripotency, and their regulation, it is necessary to efficiently generate genetically modified cells and analyze the consequences of elevated and reduced expression of genes.

The research team, led by the University of Minnesota’s Meri Firpo, Ph.D., included gene therapy researchers at Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, and developmental biologists at the University of Michigan.

The researchers used “knockdown” technology to reduce the expression of oct4, a gene known to be necessary for self renewal of mouse and human embryonic stem cells. As seen in work done with mouse cells by knockdown and other genetic means, they showed that reducing the amount of oct4 in human ES cells induced differentiation.

The researchers then used a plasmid vector to transiently increase levels of oct4 in hESC. This also resulted in differentiation as expected, but with differentiation patterns similar to those seen with the knockdown. This was an unexpected result, because when expression of oct4 is up-regulated in mouse ES cells, they differentiate into a different type of cell than if the expression of oct4 is down-regulated.

Source: Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine

Explore further: A high-fat diet may alleviate mitochondrial disease

Related Stories

Recommended for you

A high-fat diet may alleviate mitochondrial disease

Jun 30, 2015

Mice that have a genetic version of mitochondrial disease can easily be mistaken for much older animals by the time they are nine months old: they have thinning grey hair, osteoporosis, poor hearing, infertility, ...

Cheek muscles hold up better than leg muscles in space

Jun 30, 2015

It is well known that muscles need resistance (gravity) to maintain optimal health, and when they do not have this resistance, they deteriorate. A new report published in the July 2015 issue of The FASEB Journal, however, sugges ...

User comments : 0

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.