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'Housekeeping' mechanism for brain stem cells discovered
Date:4/22/2012

hours of birth. Their brains showed markedly lowered NSC proliferative capacity, and their stem cell populations were reduced.

Studies of NSCs from this strain of mice revealed that Id proteins directly regulate the production of a protein called Rap1GAP, which in turn controls Rap1, one of the master regulators of cell adhesion. The researchers found that the Id-Rap1GAP-Rap1 pathway is critical for the adhesion of NSCs to their niche and for NSC maintenance. "There may be other pathways involved, but we believe this is the key pathway," said Dr. Iavarone. "There is good reason to believe that it operates in other kinds of stem cells, and our labs are investigating this question now."

"This is a new idea," added Dr. Lasorella. "Before this study, the prevailing wisdom was that NSCs are regulated by the niche components, conceivably through the release of chemical attractants such as cytokines. However, our findings suggest that stem cell identity relies on this mechanism."

More research needs to be done before the findings can be applied therapeutically, Dr. Iavarone said. "Multiple studies show that NSCs respond to insults such as ischemic stroke or neurodegenerative diseases. If we can understand how to manipulate the pathways that determine stem cell fate, in the future we may be able to control NSC properties for therapeutic purposes."

"Another aspect," added Dr. Lasorella, "is to determine whether Id proteins also maintain stem cell properties in cancer stem cells in the brain. In fact, normal stem cells and cancer stem cells share properties and functions. Since cancer stem cells are difficult to treat, identifying these pathways may lead to more effective therapies for malignant brain tumors."

Stephen G. Emerson, MD, PhD, director of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, added that, "Understanding the pathway that allows stem cells to
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Contact: Karin Eskenazi
ket2116@columbia.edu
212-342-0508
Columbia University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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