Scientists identify key regulator controlling formation of blood-forming stem cells

September 26, 2013

Stem cell scientists have moved one step closer to producing blood-forming stem cells in a Petri dish by identifying a key regulator controlling their formation in the early embryo, shows research published online today in Cell.

The work was reported by Dr. Gordon Keller, Director of the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine, and Senior Scientist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, both at University Health Network. Dr. Keller is also Professor in the Department of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto and holds a Canada Research Chair in .

Using mouse models to study the process of blood cell development, Dr. Keller and his team demonstrated that the retinoic acid signalling pathway is required for formation of blood-forming stem cells. Retinoic acid is produced from vitamin A and is essential for many areas of human growth and development.

When the researchers genetically disrupted the pathway that produces in mice, no blood-forming stem cells were produced. When they activated the pathway at the precise stage when stem cells develop, they observed a large increase in the number of blood-forming stem cells.

"Understanding how different cells and tissues are made in the embryo provides important clues for producing human cell types from in a Petri dish," says Dr. Keller. Pluripotent stem cells are master stem cells that are able to generate many different cell types including heart, blood, and liver. To make a specific cell type from pluripotent stem cells, one must direct them down the appropriate developmental path in the Petri dish.

Dr. Keller adds: "Our findings have identified a critical regulator for directing pluripotent stem cells to make blood-forming stem cells, bringing us one step closer to our goal of developing a new and unlimited source of these stem cells for transplantation for the treatment of different blood cell diseases."

Explore further: Cancer scientists discover novel way gene controls stem cell self-renewal

Related Stories

Pancreatic stem cells isolated from mice

September 17, 2013

Scientists have succeeded in growing stem cells that have the ability to develop into two different types of cells that make up a healthy pancreas. The research team led by Dr. Hans Clevers of the Hubrecht Institute, The ...

Tracking nanodiamond-tagged stem cells

August 5, 2013

A method that is used to track the fate of a single stem cell within mouse lung tissue is reported in a study published online this week in Nature Nanotechnology. The method may offer insights into the factors that determine ...

Researchers succeed in programming blood forming stem cells

June 13, 2013

By transferring four genes into mouse fibroblast cells, researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have produced cells that resemble hematopoietic stem cells, which produce millions of new blood cells in the ...

Recommended for you

Artificial beta cells

December 8, 2016

Researchers led by ETH Professor Martin Fussenegger at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) in Basel have produced artificial beta cells using a straightforward engineering approach.

Key regulator of bone development identified

December 8, 2016

Loss of a key protein leads to defects in skeletal development including reduced bone density and a shortening of the fingers and toes—a condition known as brachydactyly. The discovery was made by researchers at Penn State ...

Researchers question lifelong immunity to toxoplasmosis

December 8, 2016

Medical students are taught that once infected with Toxoplasma gondii—the "cat parasite"—then you're protected from reinfection for the rest of your life. This dogma should be questioned, argue researchers in an Opinion ...

TET proteins drive early neurogenesis

December 7, 2016

The fate of stem cells is determined by series of choices that sequentially narrow their available options until stem cells' offspring have found their station and purpose in the body. Their decisions are guided in part by ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.