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

A New Genetic Switching Element

Published: Saturday, May 24, 2014
Last Updated: Saturday, May 24, 2014
Bookmark and Share
Stem cells contain specific proteins that recognize hydroxymethyluracil and therefore contribute to the regulation of gene activity.

Slight modifications in their genome sequences play a crucial role in the conversion of pluripotent stem cells into various differentiated cell types. An LMU team has now identified the factor responsible for one class of modification.

Every cell contains stored hereditary information, encoded in the sequence of nucleobases that make up its DNA. However, in any given cell type, only a fraction of this information is actually used. Which genes are activated and which are turned off is in part determined by a second tier of information which is superimposed on the nucleotide sequences that provide the blueprints for protein synthesis.

This so-called epigenetic level of control is based on the localized, and in principle reversible, attachment of simple chemical tags to specific nucleotides in the genome. This system plays a major role in the regulation of gene activity, and enables the selective expression of different functions in differentiated cell types.

This explains why such DNA modifications play a major role in the differentiation of stem cells. “Several unusual nucleobases have been found in the genomes of stem cells, which are produced by targeted chemical modification of the known building blocks of DNA. These ‘atypical’ bases are thought to be important in determining what types of differentiated cells can be derived from a given stem cell line,” says Professor Thomas Carell from the Department of Chemistry at LMU. All of the unconventional bases so far discovered are derived from the same standard base - cytosine. Furthermore, Carell and his team have shown in earlier work that so-called Tet enzymes are always involved in their synthesis.

Base oxidation regulates gene activity
In cooperation with colleagues at LMU, as well as researchers based in Berlin, Basel and Utrecht, Carell and his group have now shown, for the first time, that a standard base other than cytosine is also modified in embryonic stem cells of mice. Moreover, Tet is at work here too.

“During the development of specialized tissues from stem cells, enzymes belonging to the Tet family also oxidize the thymidine base, as we have now shown with the aid of highly sensitive analytical methods based on mass spectrometry. The product of the reaction, hydroxymethyluracil, was previously - and as it now turns out, erroneously - thought to be synthesized by a different pathway,” Carell explains.

The precise function of hydroxymethyluracil remains unclear. However, using an innovative method for the identification of factors capable of binding to and “reading” the chemical tags that characterize unconventional DNA bases, Carell and colleagues have shown that stem cells contain specific proteins that recognize hydroxymethyluracil, and could therefore contribute to the regulation of gene activity in these cells.

“We hope that these new insights will make it possible to modulate the differentiation of stem cells - causing them to generate cells of a particular type,” says Carell. “It would be wonderful if we were one day able to generate whole organs starting from differentiated cells produced, on demand, by stem cell populations.”


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 3,300+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 5,000+ 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
Gene Therapy Via Ultrasound
Research into a gene therapy approach called sonoporation could help combat heart disease and cancer.
Stem Cell Therapy Heals Injured Mouse Brain
A team of researchers has developed a therapeutic technique that dramatically increases the production of nerve cells in mice with stroke-induced brain damage.
Challenging Stem Cell Fate Control
Researchers have found that the fate of stem cells is not only controlled by their local niche, but also by a cell-intrinsic mechanism.
Zika Proteins Responsible for Microcephaly Identified
Researchers have undertaken the first study to examine Zika infection in human neural stem cells from second-trimester fetuses.
Heart Muscle from Stem Cells Aid Cardiovascular Medicine
Researchers discover heart muscle cells from stem cells mirror expression patterns of key genes in donor tissue.
Examining New Hypotheses for Undiagnosed Patients
UnDx Consortium gathers in San Diego to create new paths to identifying currently undiagnosed illnesses.
Novel Therapeutic Approach for Blood Disorders
Gene editing of human blood-forming stem cells mimics a benign genetic condition that helps to overcome sickle cell disease and other blood disorders.
Bone Marrow Transplants Without Using Chemotherapy
Scientists have devised a way to destroy blood stem cells in mice without using chemotherapy or radiotherapy, both of which have toxic side effects.
How Cloud Connectivity Can Combat the Reproducibility Crisis
This infographic explains the reproducibility crisis, and how cloud connectivity can help overcome this problem.
Two Zika Proteins Responsible For Microcephaly Identified
It’s the first study to examine Zika infection in human neural stem cells from second-trimester fetuses, USC researchers say.
Skyscraper Banner

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
3,300+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,000+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!