Recently, a new study published by Wellcome Genome Campus demonstrates the power of single-cell genomics, revealing how it can help scientists understand the early development of cells. The new study found that a new gene involved in the regulation of stem cells in the network, as well as new cell subsets, allowing us an insight into pluripotent stem cells – the ability to become almost all the different types of cells. Stem cell researchers have also developed a new community resource that will help explain the future investigation.
*Genome-wide RNA-Seq of Human Motor Neurons Implicates Selective ER Stress Activation in Spinal Muscular Atrophy
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is caused by mutations in the SMN1 gene. However, as this gene is expressed ubiquitously, it is not clear about the reason why motor neurons (MNs) are one of the most affected cell types. Hence researchers carried out RNA sequencing studies by using fixed, antibody-labeled and purified MNs produced from control and SMA patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).
They found SMA-specific changes in MNs, including hyper-activation of the ER stress pathway. Functional studies demonstrated that inhibition of ER stress improves MN survival in vitro even in MNs expressing low SMN. This study implies that selective activation of ER stress underlies MN death in SMA, and the approach they’ve taken would be broadly applicable to the study of disease-prone human cells in heterogeneous cultures.
*Regeneration of Thyroid Function by Transplantation of Differentiated Pluripotent Stem Cells
Differentiation of functional thyroid epithelia from pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) holds the potential for application in regenerative medicine. However, progress toward this goal is hampered by incomplete understanding of the signaling pathways needed for directed differentiation without forced overexpression of exogenous transgenes.
Researchers used mouse PSCs to identify key conserved roles for BMP and FGF signaling in regulating thyroid lineage specification from foregut endoderm in mouse and Xenopus. Moreover, by stimulating the same pathways, researchers were also able to derive human thyroid progenitors from normal and disease-specific iPSCs generated from patients with hypothyroidism resulting from NKX2-1 haploinsufficiency.
This new study has uncovered the regulatory mechanisms that underlie early thyroid organogenesis and provides a significant step toward cell-based regenerative therapy for hypothyroidism.
*The Cancer Stem Cell Niche: How Essential Is the Niche in Regulating Stemness of Tumor Cells?
Cancer stem cells are capable of self-renewal, and researchers have isolated and identified the cancer stem cells in a growing number of tumors, such as colon cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer and pancreatic cancer. For cancer stem cells, the micro environment control is very important. These environments can not only help to maintain the basic characteristics of cancer stem cells and their plasticity, protect them from the immune system attack, but also can promote their transfer.
This paper focuses on the micro-environment of cancer stem cells, and explores the impact on the occurrence and development of tumors. As cancer stem cells can escape from many common methods of treating cancer, so this article also points out that these elements in micro-environments is perhaps new target of the current treatment of cancer.
*Direct Lineage Reprogramming: Strategies, Mechanisms, and Applications
The paper reviews recent advances in lineage reprogramming, including the identification of novel reprogramming factors, underlying molecular mechanisms, strategies for generating functionally mature cells, and assays for characterizing induced cells. The researchers also discussed progress toward the application of lineage reprogramming and the major future challenges for this strategy.
*Directly Reprogrammed Human Neurons Retain Aging-Associated Transcriptomic Signatures and Reveal Age-Related Nucleocytoplasmic Defects
Along with the increasing age, our brain cells will progressively change until to the senescence, which includes gene expression differences, degenerating cell membrane, differentiation and scattering of the molecules in the young cells. However, what is the mechanism of these mature and aging process? what relation do the brain cells and recession neural diseases have? Biomedical scientists have been working to solve the puzzle.
Recently, the research team of the US Salk Institute have developed a new method that cultures ordinary skin cell to aging adult neurons for the study of time reversal, providing the best material on the research of effects on cells and diseases.
In the past, scientists have been able to use stem cell technology to culture neuronal cells, but only limited to embryonic neurons. Jerome Mertens and his colleagues collected different ages skin cells of donors, and developed them into neuronal cells and retained the aging state. The technology opens up new ways for the study of brain aging, aging diseases, helping develop unprecedented therapeutic drugs.