scientists say their work raises new questions for future research. So far they have identified three SLAM markers on hematopoietic stem cells, but they have no idea what the other eight genes in the family do. SLAM gene activity creates receptors on the surface of blood-forming stem cells, but what do these receptors do? Are SLAM receptors present on other types of stem cells?
Perhaps the most important unanswered question for future applications in medicine is whether these same markers are expressed on human hematopoietic stem cells. Kiel and Yilmaz confirmed the existence of SLAM markers on HSCs in several strains of laboratory mice, but whether they will be found on human cells remains "a big maybe," according to Kiel.
"If SLAM family receptors are expressed on human HSCs, these new markers could dramatically enhance the purification of such cells, potentially making bone marrow transplants safer and more effective," says Morrison, who adds that Kiel and Yilmaz have already started tests to look for them.
Toshide Iwashita, M.D., Ph.D., a former research fellow in Morrison's laboratory and co-first author on the study, was responsible for the tissue section analysis. Cox Terhorst, Ph.D, from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School also collaborated in the research.
Morrison's research is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Army Research Office. Kiel is supported by a U-M Medical Scientist Training Program Fellowship and Yilmaz is funded by a predoctoral fellowship from the U-M's Institute of Gerontology.
Source:University of Michigan Health System
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