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: Endangered clouded leopard kittens born in Miami zoo

Related Stories

OSKM stoichiometry determines iPS cell reprogramming

Mar 13, 2015

Researchers at Kyoto University's Center for iPS Cell Research and Application discover a simple way to increase the production of induced pluripotent stem cells. A major hurdle in reprogramming science is ...

Identifying the source of stem cells

Oct 30, 2014

When most animals begin life, cells immediately begin accepting assignments to become a head, tail or a vital organ. However, mammals, including humans, are special. The cells of mammalian embryos get to ...

Recommended for you

Keeping hungry jumbos at bay

1 hour ago

Until now electric fences and trenches have proved to be the most effective way of protecting farms and villages from night time raids by hungry elephants. But researchers think they may have come up with ...

Deciphering the origins of cell behavior

3 hours ago

Researchers at the Mechanobiology Institute, National University of Singapore, have made significant advances in our understanding of cellular biology; providing evidence that the inherent 'handedness' of ...

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.