Genetics

07 August 2009

Sperm study may help stem cell research

Two proteins that play a major role in reverting adult sperm cells back into stem cells have been identified by US researchers.

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Two proteins that play a major role in reverting adult sperm cells back into stem cells have been identified by US researchers.

A team from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the US genetically altered male fruit flies to reduce the activity of two proteins called Jak and STAT in the testes. The researchers reduced the stem cell population in the flies' testes to zero and found that only 60% of testis in the genetically altered flies regained stem cells, compared with 97% of testis in normal flies.

"We know now that in the fly testes, interfering with Jak-STAT signalling interferes with the process of dedifferentiation," Erika Matunis, an associate professor of cell biology, said in a university news release.

Dedifferentiation is the redirection of stem cells on the way to becoming sperm cells back to stem cells.

The study, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, may help in efforts to develop effective stem cell therapies.

The Hopkins researchers now want to determine how Jak and STAT control dedifferentiation.

"We don't know if a cell is just reversing all of the steps to go back to being a stem cell or if it is doing something totally new and different, but we're eager to find out," Matunis said. - (HealthDay News)

Read more:
Sperm from stem cells: study retracted

 

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