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
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 2,400+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ 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
New Weapon in the Fight Against Blood Cancer
This strategy, which uses patients’ own immune cells, genetically engineered to target tumors, has shown significant success against multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells that is largely incurable.
Scientists Create CRISPR/Cas9 Knock-In Mutations in Human T Cells
In a project spearheaded by investigators at UC San Francisco, scientists have devised a new strategy to precisely modify human T cells using the genome-editing system known as CRISPR/Cas9.
Zebrafish Reveal Drugs that may Improve Bone Marrow Transplant
Compounds boost stem cell engraftment; could allow more matches for patients with cancer and blood diseases.
New Material Forges the Way for 'Stem Cell Factories'
Researchers have discovered the first fully synthetic substrate with potential to grow billions of stem cells. The researchcould forge the way for the creation of 'stem cell factories' - the mass production of human embryonic (pluripotent) stem cells.
Liver Regrown from Stem Cells
Scientists have repaired a damaged liver in a mouse by transplanting stem cells grown in the laboratory.
Immunotherapy Shows Promise for Myeloma
A strategy, which uses patients’ own immune cells, genetically engineered to target tumors, has shown significant success against multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells that is largely incurable.
'Google Maps' for the Body
Scientists have revealed research that uses previously top-secret technology to zoom through the human body down to the level of a single cell that could be a game-changer for medicine.
Adaptimmune's Novel Cancer Therapeutics Show Positive Clinical Trial Results
The company has announced that positive data from its Phase I/II study of its affinity enhanced T-cell receptor (TCR) therapeutic targeting the NY-ESO-1 cancer antigen in patients with multiple myeloma has been published.
Stem Cells Rescue Patients from Mitochondrial Disease
A study led by OHSU researchers has revealed a critical first step in developing a new gene and stem cell regenerative technique for treating patients with mitochondrial disease.
Eco-Friendly Nanobullet to Battle Bacteria
Researchers have developed a method to combat bacteria by engineering nanoscale particles that add the antimicrobial potency of silver to a core of lignin, a ubiquitous substance found in all plant cells.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
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
2,400+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!