Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Stem Cells, Cellular Therapy & Biobanking
>
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Study of 'Sister' Stem Cells Uncovers New Cancer Clue

Published: Monday, September 30, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Scientists have used a brand new technique for examining individual stem cells to uncover dramatic differences in the gene expression levels between apparently identical ‘sister’ pairs.

The research, published in Stem Cell Reports, was conducted and funded by The Institute of Cancer Research, London. It provides the latest evidence that despite having identical DNA, sister stem cells can display considerable differences in their molecular characteristics.

The study showed that DNA methylation, a process that controls which genes are expressed in cells, plays an important role in generating non-genetic (or ‘epigenetic’) differences between sister cells.

DNA methylation could therefore be one of the reasons for the major molecular variation between different cancer cells in the same tumour – and drugs to reduce methylation might help control variation and make cancers easier to treat.

In the new research, scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) developed a novel micro-dissection technique to separate pairs of sister embryonic stem cells for single cell RNA analysis.

Using their new high-tech method, researchers separated and isolated mouse stem cells from their sister pairs and measured the behaviour of key genes known to be expressed in those cells.  By comparing which of these genes were up – or down – regulated, they determined the levels of similarity between sister cells at the molecular level for the first time.

They found that under normal conditions, pairs of sister stem cells displayed considerable differences to each other, showing nearly as much diversity as two cells from different sister pairs.

The researchers then looked at cells grown in the presence of a chemical cocktail called 2i, which reverts cells back to their most primitive stem cell state where they can make identical copies of themselves. They found that the cells had reduced levels of two enzymes critical for DNA methylation and they produced more similar sister cells.

The results suggest that DNA methylation is a major cause of the diversity between sister cells when they divide.

Dr Tomoyuki Sawado, leader of the Stem Cells and Chromatin Team at The Institute of Cancer Research, said: “Embryonic stem cell division is generally believed to be a symmetrical process, but what we found was that sister cells are actually often quite different from one another.

“We used a new technique to separate paired stem cells combined with assays that measure RNA in individual cells. Our research showed that sister stem cells display considerable differences in which genes are expressed. These differences are advantageous for normal stem cells in their constantly changing environment, and in cancer cells, the same characteristics can enable them to evade treatments. If we can control a process like DNA methylation that creates diversity in cell populations, we could create more efficient treatments for cancer.”
 
Professor Mel Greaves, Professor of Cell Biology at The Institute of Cancer Research, said: “How stem cells regulate expression of their genes is crucial to many fundamental biological processes, such as embryonic development, regeneration and turnover of blood, skin and other tissues in the body, but especially to cancer.

“One of the biggest challenges in cancer treatment is overcoming drug resistance. Research from the ICR has revealed that the cells of individual tumours are remarkably diverse and this new research highlights one way this might be achieved. The inherent variability of cancer cell populations provides them with the flexibility to adapt and survive even when confronted with innovative new drugs. If we could harness these new insights to restrict the diversity of cancer cells it would substantially increase the prospects for effective control or eradication of cancer.”


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,000+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.


Scientific News
Turning Skin Cells into Heart, Brain Cells
In a major breakthrough, scientists at the Gladstone Institutes transformed skin cells into heart cells and brain cells using a combination of chemicals.
Stem Cells Know How to Unwind
Research led by the Babraham Institute with collaborators in the UK, Canada and Japan has revealed a new understanding of how an open genome structure supports the long-term and unrestricted developmental potential in embryonic stem cells.
Growing Stem Cells More Safely
Nurturing stem cells atop a bed of mouse cells works well, but is a non-starter for transplants to patients – Brown University scientists are developing a synthetic bed instead.
Cell Transplant Treats Parkinson’s in Mice
A University of Wisconsin—Madison neuroscientist has inserted a genetic switch into nerve cells so a patient can alter their activity by taking designer drugs that would not affect any other cell.
Skin Cells Turned into Heart Cells and Brain Cells Using Drugs
In a scientific first, Gladstone researchers have used chemical drugs to convert skin cells into heart cells and brain cells, without adding any external genes.
Shape Of Tumor May Affect Whether Cells Can Metastasize
Illinois researchers found that the shape of a tumor may play a role in how cancer cells become primed to spread.
‘Mini-Brains’ to Study Zika
Novel tool expected to speed research on brain and drug development.
Cytokine Triggers Immune Response at Expense of Blood Renewal
Research highlights promise of Anti-IL-1 drugs to treat chronic inflammatory disease.
AstraZeneca to Sequence 2 Million Genomes in Search for New Drugs
Company launches integrated genomics approach which aims to transform drug discovery and development.
Improving Engineered T-Cell Cancer Treatment
Purdue University researchers may have figured out a way to call off a cancer cell assassin that sometimes goes rogue and assign it a larger tumor-specific "hit list."
SELECTBIO

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,000+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,500+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!