Saturday, 2 February 2013

Notch proteins activate the production of hematopoietic stem cells

A collaborative research team, led by researchers from the Institut Hospital del Mar, recently announced that they have decoded a gene regulation circuit that plays a significant role in the production of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). The study has implications for creating lab-grown HSCs, useful for research and therapeutic purposes, such as in the case of cancer patients that can't find a matching donor for a hematopoietic stem cell transplant.

According to the study,Notch proteins are responsible for Gata2 and Hes1 transcription. These two in turn activate the production of the hematopoietic stem cells. Anna Bigas, one of the chief authors, says that they have only discovered one of the many different "basic circuits" involved in HSCs production, with many more to be found. Their final goal is to confirm the results from their rodent model and to use them to create lab-grown hematopoietic stem cells.

The 4-year study is the result of team work from many different researchers, with many of the experiments being conducted in the USA, Holland and Japan. It was carried out on mouse embryonic stem cells.

Notch proteins are a family of transmembrane proteins involved in the creation and development of most tissues during embryogenesis. There are 4 types of notch proteins:
  • Notch-1
  • Notch-2
  • Notch-3
  • Notch-4

Computer generated image of Human notch-1 protein
Computer generated image of Human Notch-1 Protein

Guiu J, Shimizu R, D'Altri T, Fraser ST, Hatakeyama J, Bresnick EH, Kageyama R, Dzierzak E, Yamamoto M, Espinosa L, & Bigas A (2013). Hes repressors are essential regulators of hematopoietic stem cell development downstream of Notch signaling. The Journal of experimental medicine, 210 (1), 71-84 PMID: 23267012

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