The Gene Responsible for the Origin of Blood
Researchers have discovered that a gene called Rasip1 is intimately involved in the creation of blood cells.
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Now, a research team at Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) has discovered just that, revealing that SOX17 targets a gene called Rasip1. To appreciate their research achievement, we first need to know a little more about SOX17 and the origins of blood.
SOX17 is a ‘transcription factor’, a special type of protein that regulates the activities of genes and whether genes are active at any given time. SOX17 is expressed in clusters of cells in a blood vessel called the dorsal aorta; these clusters, called ‘intra-aortic hematopoietic cell clusters’, are where HSCs first develop in mice, around embryonic day 10.5. The researchers aimed to determine SOX17’s role in these clusters.
To investigate potential targets of SOX17, the team first carried out RNA-sequencing analysis to see which genes were activated in two very similar populations of cells, one expressing SOX17 and one not.
“One gene that stood out during RNA-sequencing analysis was Rasip1,” explains first author Gerel Melig. “This gene is known to be a regulator in vascular cells, which line the blood vessels.”
“We therefore have proposed a model of early hematopoiesis, in which SOX17 induces the expression of Rasip1, leading to the development of HSCs and associated hematopoietic activity in intra‑aortic hematopoietic cell clusters,” says senior author Tetsuya Taga.
This study increases our understanding of the early stages of hematopoiesis. This process, forming all cellular components of blood, occurs not only during embryonic development but also throughout adulthood, producing and replenishing the blood cells in the body. A greater understanding of the mechanisms and molecules involved will enhance our knowledge of the processes underlying disorders and cancers of the blood.
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