Adult rabbit stem cells show good potential for laboratory use

October 11, 2010, RIKEN
Rabbit iPS cells, differentiated in vitro, which specialize into a variety of cell types from the three basic germ layers (top left). These include ectoderm—neural cells (top right); mesoderm—smooth muscle cells (bottom left); and endoderm (bottom left) (scale bar, 100 µm). © 2010 the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Japanese molecular biologists have successfully reprogrammed adult rabbit body cells to form colonies of fully pluripotent cells that are highly similar to rabbit embryonic stem cells (ESCs).

These induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells of rabbits are likely to be used as a laboratory model of human iPS cells, the researchers say -- in particular, for comparisons with ESCs to evaluate the feasibility of iPS cells for regenerative medicine.

In fact, the researchers consider the development of these rabbit iPS cells as an important tool for human medical research, as rabbits are much closer to humans physiologically than mice and can be handled much more easily in the laboratory than other animals used as models of humans, such as pigs and monkeys.

The research team from the RIKEN BioResource Center in Tsukuba, which was led by Atsuo Ogura, used lentiviruses modified as vectors to introduce four human genes into adult rabbit liver and stomach cells1. The genes -- for that guide reading of the DNA -- effectively reprogrammed the adult cells as iPS cells, and these proved easy to handle and maintain in culture. But the result was dependent on the initial adult cell-type, according to Arata Honda, a researcher in Ogura’s team.

Honda says that the researchers first tried without success to reprogram adult rabbit fibroblasts, the most common cells in connective tissue.

They tested the properties of the rabbit iPS cells by using them to generate the tumors known as teratomas that contain differentiated or specialized cells of all three types of germ layers -- ectoderm, endoderm and mesoderm. Marker compounds that are characteristic of were present in the iPS cells.

Ogura, Honda and colleagues also determined which were active in their rabbit iPS cells. When they compared the profile of this activity with that found for rabbit ESCs, they found that, although not the same, the two types of cells were very similar.

At least three types of , generated from rabbits by different methods, are now available to researchers—ES cells, iPS cells, and nuclear transfer ES cells. “Thus, using rabbits, we can fully characterize these different pluripotent cells in parallel under the same experimental conditions,” Ogura says.

Honda adds that: “We can now assess the efficacy and safety of new cell-based treatments for degenerative diseases in human. We hope that we will finally identify which type of cells is best suited for each purpose of regenerative therapy in humans.”

Explore further: What's good for the mouse is good for the monkey: Skin cells reprogrammed into stem cells

More information: Honda, A., et al. Generation of induced pluripotent stem cells in rabbits: potential experimental models for human regenerative medicine. Journal of Biological Chemistry published online 29 July 2010, doi:10.1074/jbc.M110.150540

Related Stories

Researchers generate functional neurons from somatic cells

February 24, 2009

In a new study, researchers were able to generate functionally mature motor neurons from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which are engineered from adult somatic cells and can differentiate into most other cell types. ...

Researchers piggyback to safer reprogrammed stem cells

February 27, 2009

Austin Smith and his research team at the Centre for Stem Cell Research in Cambridge have just published in the journal Development a new and safer way of generating pluripotent stem cells - the stem cells that can give rise ...

Recommended for you

Targeting 'hidden pocket' for treatment of stroke and seizure

January 19, 2019

The ideal drug is one that only affects the exact cells and neurons it is designed to treat, without unwanted side effects. This concept is especially important when treating the delicate and complex human brain. Now, scientists ...

Artificially produced cells communicate with each other

January 18, 2019

Friedrich Simmel and Aurore Dupin, researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), have for the first time created artificial cell assemblies that can communicate with each other. The cells, separated by fatty membranes, ...

Using bacteria to create a water filter that kills bacteria

January 18, 2019

More than one in 10 people in the world lack basic drinking water access, and by 2025, half of the world's population will be living in water-stressed areas, which is why access to clean water is one of the National Academy ...

Hand-knitted molecules

January 18, 2019

Molecules are usually formed in reaction vessels or laboratory flasks. An Empa research team has now succeeded in producing molecules between two microscopically small, movable gold tips – in a sense as a "hand-knitted" ...

This computer program makes pharma patents airtight

January 17, 2019

Routes to making life-saving medications and other pharmaceutical compounds are among the most carefully protected trade secrets in global industry. Building on recent work programming computers to identify synthetic pathways ...

0 comments

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.