The signalling molecule Wnt has been purified. Wnt proteins may help blood stem cells to divide and self-renew, according to two papers published online by Nature.
Wnt signalling is involved in many events in animal development, and has been implicated in some human cancers. Now Roel Nusse from Stanford University School of Medicine, California, and colleagues have isolated active, pure Wnt proteins for the first time. They find that the proteins have a fat molecule attached, which is essential for the activity of Wnt. The purified protein also prompts blood-forming stem cells in the bone marrow to divide and make new copies of themselves.
Tannishtha Reya from Duke University Medical Center, North Carolina, and colleagues reach a similar conclusion. They also find that blood stem cells expressing Wnt pathway inhibitors fail to divide in culture and after they have been injected into mice.
These and other studies suggest that Wnt may signal a diverse range of tissues to self-renew. Understanding how molecular signals influence stem cells may help researchers to harness the potential of signalling molecules like Wnt as a therapeutic transplant source.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Dept of Developmental Biology
Stanford University School of Medicine
Tel: +1 650 723 7769
Dept of Pharmacology & Cancer Biology
Duke University Medical Center
Tel: +1 919 613 8756
(C) Nature press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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