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: Study solves the bluetongue disease 'overwintering' mystery

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 ...

Predicting the fate of stem cells

Oct 22, 2013

University of Toronto researchers have developed a method that can rapidly screen human stem cells and better control what they will turn into. The technology could have potential use in regenerative medicine and drug development. ...

The developmental on-switch

Aug 19, 2013

German researchers have demonstrated for the first time why the molecular cocktail responsible for generating stem cells works. Sox2 and Oct4 are proteins whose effect on cells resembles that of an eraser: ...

Recommended for you

Final pieces to the circadian clock puzzle found

5 hours ago

Researchers at the UNC School of Medicine have discovered how two genes – Period and Cryptochrome – keep the circadian clocks in all human cells in time and in proper rhythm with the 24-hour day, as well ...

Measuring modified protein structures

9 hours ago

Swiss researchers have developed a new approach to measure proteins with structures that change. This could enable new diagnostic tools for the early recognition of neurodegenerative diseases to be developed.

New insights in survival strategies of bacteria

9 hours ago

Bacteria are particularly ingenious when it comes to survival strategies. They often create a biofilm to protect themselves from a hostile environment, for example during treatment with antibiotics. A biofilm is a bacterial ...

Bangladesh meet begins to save endangered tigers

10 hours ago

Some 140 tiger experts and government officials from 20 countries met in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on Sunday to review progress towards an ambitious goal of doubling their number in the wild by 2022.

Study solves the bluetongue disease 'overwintering' mystery

Sep 12, 2014

The bluetongue virus, which causes a serious disease that costs the cattle and sheep industries in the United States an estimated $125 million annually, manages to survive the winter by reproducing in the insect that transmits ...

User comments : 0