Scientists have long hypothesized about the existence of a common origin for both vascular cells and haematopoietic cells - the blood-forming cells that can mature into red blood cells and important immune cells. A new study appearing in the 02 Dec 2004 issue of Nature (Vol. 432, No. 7017, pp. 625-630) gives the strongest proof yet for this theory.
The researchers do this by identifying the shared vascular and haematopoietic precursor cell, called the haemangioblast, in early mouse embryos. Previous studies have only shown that such a cell type exists in cultures of cells grown in test tubes. In the current study, Gordon Keller and his colleagues tagged a certain subpopulation of the cells with a fluorescent protein, and showed that the labelled cells gave rise to vascular and haematopoietic cell types. They conducted further experiments to define the distribution of these cells throughout the embryo.
This new discovery - which highlights a concentration of haemangioblasts in the embryo's posterior primitive streak - will help biologists to explore cell lineage in the future. Eventually it might provide an insight into the therapeutic potential of embryonic cells to form blood cells, and help to identify the factors that influence embryonic cells to form a particular cell type.
Gordon Keller (Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA)
Tel: +1 212 659 8228, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
(C) Nature press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza