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Physical cues help mature cells revert into embryonic-like stem cells
Date:10/21/2013

ression are also used to boost the efficiency of the reprogramming process.

"The concern with current methods is the low efficiency at which cells actually reprogram and the unpredictable long-term effects of certain imposed genetic or chemical manipulations," said study lead author Timothy Downing, who did this research as a graduate student in the UC Berkeley-UC San Francisco Joint Graduate Program in Bioengineering. "For instance, valproic acid is a potent chemical that drastically alters the cell's epigenetic state and can cause unintended changes inside the cell. Given this, many people have been looking at different ways to improve various aspects of the reprogramming process."

Previous studies have shown that physical and mechanical forces can influence cell fate, but the effect on epigenetic state and cell reprogramming had not been clear.

The new study found that culturing cells on micro-grooved biomaterials improved the quality and consistency of the reprogramming process, and was just as effective as valproic acid.

"Cells elongate, for example, as they migrate throughout the body," said Downing, who is now a research scientist in Li's lab. "In the case of topography, where we control the elongation of a cell by controlling the physical microenvironment, we are able to more closely mimic what a cell would experience in its native physiological environment. In this regard, these physical cues are less invasive and artificial to the cell and therefore less likely to cause unintended side effects."

The researchers are studying whether growing cells on grooved surfaces could eventually replace valproic acid and perhaps other chemical compounds in the reprogramming process.

"We are also studying whether biophysical factors could help reprogram cells into specific cell types, such as neurons," said Jennifer Soto, UC Berkeley graduate student in bioengineering and another co-author of the study.


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Contact: Sarah Yang
scyang@berkeley.edu
510-643-7741
University of California - Berkeley
Source:Eurekalert  

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