Molecular competition 'drives adult stem cells to specialise'

6 August 2014

Adult organisms harbor adult stem cells which renew themselves into the specialised cells needed to replace worn-out or damaged organs and tissues, according to new findings.

In the journal Nature, scientists at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research say that understanding the molecular mechanisms that control the balance between self-renewal and differentiation in adult stem cells is an important foundation for developing therapies to regenerate diseased, injured or aged tissue.

Competition between two proteins known as Bam and COP9 balances the self-renewal and differentiation functions of ovarian germline stem cells (GSCs) in fruit flies, with Bam being the 'master differentiation factor' in the Drosophila female GSC system, according to Stowers Investigator Dr Ting Xie, senior author of the Nature paper.

He added: "In order to carry out the switch from self-renewal to differentiation, Bam must inactivate the functions of self-renewing factors as well as activate the functions of differentiation factors."

Dr Ting said the study has offered a "novel way" for Bam to carry out the switch from self-renewal to differentiation, which could lead to new ways of developing therapies to regenerate diseased, injured or aged tissue.

Posted by Edward Bartel


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