New research from a team of scientists identifies methods of regulating stem cell niches, leading to possible future advancements in stem cell research.

250px Human embryonic stem cell colony phase New discovery may advance stem cell research

Stem cells, which support tissue regeneration and function, can be found in so-called stem cell niches. Carnegie’s Yixian Zheng and Haiyang Chen have identified a method by which one can regulate these niches, and by extension, regulate the production of stem cells. This can then have effects on tissue building and function. The results could have implications for future research.

The research starts with lamins, proteins which are a major component of the material that can be found lining the inside of a cell’s nucleus. Lamins have many different functions, including gene suppression, and changes in them have been linked to diseases in specific tissues and organs, though how the mechanics of that link work, are still uncertain.

A group of ailments called laminopathes are caused by these defects in the lamins, and the research team wanted to investigate the tissue specific effects of lamin defects. What they found through a comprehensive study of fruit flies, was that lamins were a necessary component in supporting the organization of stem cell niches.

image001 New discovery may advance stem cell research


These results could have implications for the role of lamins in other types of stem cell niches,” explained Zheng, “These findings could contribute to the study of diseases caused by lamina-based tissue degeneration. For example, different lamin mutations could disrupt the organization of different niches in the body, which then leads to degeneration in tissues.”