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Epigenetic signatures direct the repair potential of reprogrammed cells
Date:3/14/2012

BOSTON (March 14, 2012) A research team has identified epigenetic signatures, markers on DNA that control transient changes in gene expression, within reprogrammed skin cells. These signatures can predict the expression of a wound-healing protein in reprogrammed skin cells or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), cells that take on embryonic stem cell properties. Understanding how the expression of the protein is controlled brings us one step closer to developing personalized tissue regeneration strategies using stem cells from a patient, instead of using human embryonic stem cells. The study was published in the Journal of Cell Science.

When skin cells are reprogrammed, many of their cellular properties are recalibrated as they aquire stem cell properties and then are induced to become skin cells again. In order for these "induced" stem cells to be viable in treatment for humans (tissue regeneration, personalized wound healing therapies, etc.), researchers need to understand how they retain or even improve their characteristics after they are reprogrammed.

Since the initial discovery of reprogramming, scientists have struggled with the unpredictability of the cells due to the many changes that occur during the reprogramming process. Classifying specific epigenetic signatures, as this study did, allows researchers to anticipate ways to produce cell types with optimal properties for tissue repair while minimizing unintended cellular abnormalities.

The researchers used reprogrammed cells to generate three-dimensional connective tissue that mimics an in vivo wound repair environment. To verify the role of the protein (PDGFRbeta) in tissue regeneration and maintenance, the team blocked its cellular expression, which impaired the cells' ability to build tissue.

"We determined that successful tissue generation is associated with the expression of PDGFRbeta. Theoretically, by identifying the epigenetic signatures that i
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Contact: Jessica McGovern
jessica.mcgovern@tufts.edu
617-636-6586
Tufts University, Health Sciences Campus
Source:Eurekalert

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