Embryonic stem cell (ESC) renewal does not rely on instructions from outside the cell and can be enabled by eliminating internal factors that induce differentiation, according to research in Nature.
It is 30 years since pluripotent mouse ESCs were first described, and various combinations of feeder cells, growth factors, hormones and serums have been used to maintain their undifferentiated state. Austin Smith and colleagues have studied mouse ESCs in a variety of culture conditions and show that ESC self-renewal does not rely on extrinsic instruction. Inhibition of factors that induce differentiation enables self-renewal, suggesting that the ground state of the ESC in the absence of external instruction is self-renewal. Such self-sufficiency is more like that of a unicellular organism than the interdependence we expect of regular metazoan cells. The authors believe that such minimal requirements provide a basis for the precise description and dissection of the pluripotent state.
Austin Smith (Wellcome Trust Centre for Stem Cell Research, University of Cambridge, UK)
(C) Nature press release.
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