HOUSTON -- (June 25, 2010) Ronin, crucial to the self-renewal of embryonic stem cells, and a co-regulator called Hcf-1, binds to a small strand of DNA called a hyperconserved enhancer element to control a gene "program" that stimulates growth of the stem cells and may even play a role in cancer, said a group of researchers led by Baylor College of Medicine in a current report in the journal Genes and Development.
Dr. Thomas P. Zwaka, associate professor in the Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine (STaR) Center at BCM and others in his laboratory first identified Ronin and its role in maintaining stem cells in their undifferentiated state. Now he and his colleagues from the University of Houston, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Mass., have identified the tiny strand of DNA that enables the protein with its co-regulator Hcf-1 to maintain the rapid growth that characterizes embryonic stems cells.
Finding this small DNA strand required determining the genetic sequence of the site to which Ronin binds in the genome, he said. They used high tech, extremely rapid sequencing methods (high throughput, massively parallel sequencing) to identify the appropriate sequences and determine their genetic code. They analyzed 866 potential binding sites and found a similar motif in 844.
As chance would have it, this genetic sequence had been previously identified in a pure bioinformatics study of genetic sequences that are present in most mammalian species. Because such sequences are conserved throughout evolution, they are believed to play a fundamental role in cellular proc
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Baylor College of Medicine