But, Gilbert noted, one time that the cell "shows its cards" is during DNA replication.
"During this process, which was the focus of our FSU research, it's not just the DNA that replicates," he said. "All the packaging must be replicated as well in each cell division cycle."
He explained that embryonic stem cells have many more, smaller "domains" of organization than differentiated cells, and it is during differentiation that they consolidate information.
"In fact, 'domain consolidation' is what we call the novel concept we discovered," he said.
Gilbert likened the concept of domain consolidation to the undeclared or "undifferentiated" college student who then consolidates her literature resources during the course of declaring a major and specialization. "From a student with books on all subjects on all of her bookshelves comes a student who has placed all texts pertaining to her major on the eye-level shelf and moved the distantly-related, potentially distracting texts to the hard-to-reach bottom or top shelves," he said.
"Now, our challenge as scientists," said Gilbert, "is to build on what we've learned about domain consolidation so that we can efficiently and safely create patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells or even coax the body's cells to change their specialization in response to medications."
|Contact: David Gilbert|
Florida State University