A gene called latexin has a significant effect on the blood stem cell population in young mice, according to a study to be published in the February 2007 issue of Nature Genetics. This finding provides insights into how the population of stem cells is regulated, which could have implications for stem cell-based clinical therapies.
Twenty-five years ago, Gary Van Zant and colleagues showed that the size of the blood stem cell population can vary in different strains of mice, with a strain called D2 typically having at least three times as many blood stem cells as a strain called B6. They subsequently narrowed down the genetic contribution to this variation to regions on three different chromosomes, and now report the identification of the first gene, latexin. The authors experimentally tested the role of latexin by infecting cultured bone marrow cells with a virus promoting the expression of high levels of latexin. They transplanted these cells into recipient mice and found that overexpression of latexin had the effect of reducing the number of blood stem cells, suggesting that it acts as an inhibitor of stem cell expansion.
Gary Van Zant (University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Genetics press release.
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