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Method makes it easier to separate useful stem cells from 'problem' ones for therapies
Date:4/22/2013

>"I was puzzled by this result, because we thought this pathway was essential for all cells, regardless of differentiation state," Koehler said.

The team then decided to test MitoBloCK-6 on human pluripotent stem cells. Postdoctoral fellow Kiyoko Setoguchi showed that MitoBloCK-6 caused the pluripotent stem cells to die by triggering apoptosis, a process of programmed cell suicide.

Because the tissue-specific daughter cells became resistant to death shortly after their differentiation, the destruction of the pluripotent stem cells left a population of only the differentiated cells. Why this happens is still unclear, but the researchers said that this ability to separate the two cell populations could potentially reduce the risk of teratomas and other problems in regenerative medicine treatment strategies.

"We discovered that pluripotent stem cell mitochondria undergo a change during differentiation into tissue-specific daughter cells, which could be the key to the survival of the differentiated cells when the samples are exposed to MitoBloCK-6," Teitell said. "We are still investigating this process in mitochondria, but we now know that mitochondria have an important role in controlling pluripotent stem cell survival."

MitoBloCK-6 is what is known as a "small molecule," which can easily cross cell membranes to reach mitochondria. This quality makes MitoBloCK-6 or a derivative compound with similar properties ideal for potential use as a drug, because it can function in many cell types and species and can alter the function of mitochondria in the body for therapeutic effects.

"It is exciting that our research in the one-cell model baker's yeast yielded an agent for investigating and controlling mitochondrial function in human pluripotent stem cells," Koehler said. "This illustrates that mitochondrial function is highly conserved across organisms and confirms that focused studies in mode
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Contact: Shaun Mason
smason@mednet.ucla.edu
310-206-2805
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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