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Self-Renewal Understood

  June, 21 2006 7:49
your information resource in human molecular genetics
A paper to be published online by Nature (Vol. 441, No. 7095)identifies a molecule that endows embryonic stem (ES) cells with their revered properties: the ability to self-renew and 'pluripotency', the ability to make numerous other cell types. Molecules such as this might one day be used to convert a patient's regular, somatic cell into an ES cell, perhaps avoiding the ethically contentious extraction of ES cells from human embryos.

Stem-cell biologists know that fusing an ES cell with a somatic cell can bestow the latter with pluripotency. Austin Smith and his colleagues show that a protein called Nanog, which is manufactured in young embryos, is responsible: they showed that mouse ES cells making extra Nanog protein can convert neural stem cells into pluripotent cells at a much higher efficiency. They propose that Nanog directs the ES cell machinery to erase old patterns of gene activity and install new pluripotent ones.


Austin Smith (University of Edinburgh, UK)
E-mail: austin.smith@ed.ac.uk

Abstract available online.

(C) Nature press release.

Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza

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