13 Sep :Researchers team at Utah University claims to have identified two early steps in adult stem cell differentiation-the process that determines whether cells will form muscle, neurons or skin in humans and animals.
Having used the molecular equivalent of a tattoo on DNA which adult stem cells (ASC) pass to their "daughter" cells in combination with gene expression profiles.
The researchers have identified 259 genes that help defined the earliest steps in the differentiation of adult stem cells in planarians — tiny flatworms that can regenerate cells, the ‘Cell-Stem Cell’ journal reported.
"This allows us to study an entire stem cell population in its own environment. It’s likely that what we learned here can be applied to our own stem cell biology," said Snchez Alvarado, the study’s senior author.
These findings opens a window to understanding how multipotent stem cells take differentiation decisions. "This allows us to begin to understand how adult stem cells decide what their daughter cells will become when they grow up," he said.
The team marked adult stem cells in the worms by injecting BrdU a synthetic nucleotide that binds with DNA and leaves an unmistakable mark on it, much like a tattoo.
When the adult stem cells divided into daughter cells as part of the worms’ normal cell regeneration, the BrdU was passed to the daughter cells in their DNA, allowing the researchers to track these cells.
They found that the daughter cells that move on to differentiate into different cell types do so by going through at least two steps.