Epigenetic Events, Stem Cells, and Blood Vessel Cells

What is the process by which stem cells decide (or are told) to “differentiate” into particular types of cells? It’s a complex story researchers are starting to unravel in small pieces.

A new piece of the puzzle is now moving into sight as researchers  at the University of Illinois at Chicago identified:

a molecular mechanism that directs embryonic stem cells to mature into endothelial cells — the specialized cells that form blood vessels. Understanding the processes initiated by this mechanism could help scientists more efficiently convert stem cells into endothelial cells for use in tissue repair, or for engineering blood vessels to bypass blockages in the heart . The report, published online in the journal Stem Cell Reports, identifies two enzymes that alter the expression of certain genes needed for embryonic cells to differentiate and become endothelial cells. The enzymes work by an “epigenetic” modification — a chemical change to DNA, or certain proteins that interact with DNA, that changes the activity of genes without changing the DNA itself. Changes to the proteins around which DNA is wound, called histones, can up-regulate the expression of genes by exposing them to the cellular machinery that translates their DNA.”

The rest of the short version of the story is told in a June 26, 2015 story at ScienceDaily. (And yes, I plead guilty to shameless promotion of anything that is tied to both  1) biotech and 2) University of Illinois.)

The full story is the article:

  1. Liangtang Wu, Kishore K. Wary, Sergei Revskoy, Xiaopei Gao, Kitman Tsang, Yulia A. Komarova, Jalees Rehman, Asrar B. Malik. Histone Demethylases KDM4A and KDM4C Regulate Differentiation of Embryonic Stem Cells to Endothelial Cells. Stem Cell Reports, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2015.05.016

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About Kirk

Since becoming a lawyer in 1983, Kirk’s over 30 years of practice have focused on advising a wide range of corporations, associations, and individuals (as both plaintiffs and defendants) on both tort and commercial law issues centered around “mass torts.”

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