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Nervous system stem cells can replace themselves, give rise to variety of cell types, even amplify
Date:6/30/2011

amount of a chemical into about 50 mouse brains to induce extremely limited cell labeling.

"It's a simple idea that forced us to confront a lot of complex technical issues," Song says. "With so many millions of cells in the relatively large mouse brain, labeling a single stem cell and then chasing its family history was like finding a needle in a haystack."

The scientists developed computer programs and devised a new imaging technique that allowed them to examine stained slices of the mouse brain and, ultimately, follow single, randomly chosen radial glia-like stem cells over time. The method allowed them to track down all the new cells derived from a single original stem cell.

"We reconstituted single stem cells' family trees to look at the progeny they gave rise to," says Guo-li Ming, associate professor of neurology and neuroscience and a member of the Neuroregeneration Program in the Institute for Cell Engineering. "We discovered that single cells in an intact animal nervous system absolutely do exhibit stem-cell properties; they are capable of both replicating themselves and producing different types of differentiated neural progeny."

The team followed the fates of all the marked radial glia-like stem cells for at least a month or two, and examined some a full year later to discover that even over the long term, the "mother" cell was still generating itself as well as different kinds of progeny.

In addition, the researchers investigated how these RGLs were activated on a molecular level, focusing, in particular, on the regulatory role of an autism-associated gene called PTEN. Conventional wisdom was that deleting this gene led to an increase in stem-cell activation. However, the scientists demonstrated that was a transient effect in the mouse brains, and that, ultimately, PTEN deletion leads to stem-cell depletion.


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Contact: Maryalice Yakutchik
myakutc1@jhmi.edu
443-287-2251
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert  

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