‘Pluripotent cells’ that have the ability to differentiate into a variety of organs and tissues develop during the early phase of embryogenesis. Embryonic stem (ES) cells are derived from this population of cells. Wnt family proteins, a group of proteins that are highly conserved between invertebrates and vertebrates and have a variety of roles during organogenesis, and are also involved in the maintenance of pluripotency in mouse ES cells. The mechanisms underlying the paradoxical roles of Wnts have yet to be elucidated.
Project Associate Professor Shinsuke Ohba (The University of Tokyo Graduate School of Engineering, Department of Bioengineering), collaborating with Drs. Andrew P. McMahon (Director and Professor, Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at University of South California) and X. Shirley Liu (Associate Professor, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard School of Public Health), found that the Wnt/β-catenin pathway uses distinct gene regulatory networks in the regulation of pluripotency and differentiation in mouse ES cells.
This finding will contribute to the understanding of molecular basis of pluripotency and differentiation of ES cells and to the development of safer and more appropriate strategies for the use of stem cells in regenerative medicine.
Source: University of Tokyo