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Stem-cell research: A new genetic switching element
Date:5/22/2014

is also modified in embryonic stem cells of mice. Moreover, Tet is at work here too. "During the development of specialized tissues from stem cells, enzymes belonging to the Tet family also oxidize the thymidine base, as we have now shown with the aid of highly sensitive analytical methods based on mass spectrometry. The product of the reaction, hydroxymethyluracil, was previously and as it now turns out, erroneously thought to be synthesized by a different pathway," Carell explains.

The precise function of hydroxymethyluracil remains unclear. However, using an innovative method for the identification of factors capable of binding to and "reading" the chemical tags that characterize unconventional DNA bases, Carell and colleagues have shown that stem cells contain specific proteins that recognize hydroxymethyluracil, and could therefore contribute to the regulation of gene activity in these cells. "We hope that these new insights will make it possible to modulate the differentiation of stem cells causing them to generate cells of a particular type," says Carell. "It would be wonderful if we were one day able to generate whole organs starting from differentiated cells produced, on demand, by stem cell populations."


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Contact: Luise Dirscherl
presse@lmu.de
49-892-180-3243
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitt Mnchen
Source:Eurekalert

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