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: Breaking down DNA by genome

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The young sperm, poised for greatness

May 19, 2014

In the body, a skin cell will always be skin, and a heart cell will always be heart. But in the first hours of life, cells in the nascent embryo become totipotent: they have the incredible flexibility to ...

Recommended for you

Breaking down DNA by genome

18 minutes ago

New DNA sequencing technologies have greatly advanced genomic and metagenomic studies in plant biology. Scientists can readily obtain extensive genetic information for any plant species of interest, at a relatively low cost, ...

Is fleet diversity key to sustainable fisheries?

7 hours ago

Concern about fisheries is widespread around the world. Over the past several decades, a robust discussion has taken place concerning how to manage fisheries better to benefit ecosystems and humans. Much of the discussion ...

Strange, fanged deer persists in Afghanistan

7 hours ago

More than 60 years after its last confirmed sighting, a strange deer with vampire-like fangs still persists in the rugged forested slopes of northeast Afghanistan according to a research team led by the Wildlife ...

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.