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Hormel Institute study makes key finding in stem cell self-renewal
Date:2/6/2012

other things, the two enzymes swinging into action.

The researchers also discovered how the enzymes control Klf4. They attach a small molecule--phosphate, consisting of phosphorus and oxygen--to Klf4. This "tag" marks it for destruction by the cellular machinery that recycles proteins.

Further, they found that suppressing the activity of the two enzymes allows the stem cells to maintain their self-renewal and resist differentiation. Taken together, their findings paint a picture of the ERK1 and ERK2 enzymes as major players in deciding the future of embryonic stem cells--and potentially cancer cells, whose rapid growth mirrors the behavior of the stem cells.

Klf4 is one of several factors used to reprogram certain adult skin cells to become a form of stem cells called iPS (induced pluripotent stem) cells, which behave similarly to embryonic stem cells. Also, many studies have shown that Klf4 can either activate or repress the functioning of genes and, in certain contexts, act as either an oncogene (that promotes cancer) or a tumor suppressor. Given these and their own findings reported here, the Hormel Institute researchers suggest that the self-renewal program of cancer cells might resemble that of embryonic stem cells.

"Although the functions of Klf4 in cancer are controversial, several reports suggest Klf4 is involved in human cancer development," Bode said.


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Contact: Jeff Falk
jfalk@umn.edu
612-626-1720
University of Minnesota
Source:Eurekalert

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