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Recipe for cell reprogramming adds protein
Date:8/6/2008

wn oncogene whose overexpression can also cause cancer. For IPS cells to be employed to treat human diseases such as Parkinson's, researchers must find safe alternatives to reprogramming with retroviruses and oncogenes.

Earlier research has shown that c-Myc is not strictly required for the generation of IPS cells. However, its absence makes the reprogramming process time-consuming and highly inefficient.

To bypass these obstacles, the Whitehead researchers replaced c-Myc and its retrovirus with a naturally occurring signaling molecule called Wnt3a. When added to the fluid surrounding the cells being reprogrammed, Wnt3a promotes the conversion of adult cells into IPS cells.

"We're not sure if the Wnt molecule is doing the same thing as c-Myc or complementing c-Myc's activity," says Chevalier. "But it does increase stem cell growth similar to c-Myc."

"This is a good start toward using external cues instead of genetic manipulation to reprogram cells," says Marson. "But we still need to eliminate the need for retroviruses for the three other genes."

Although the technique is promising in mouse cells, its potential applications in humans have not been studied, emphasizes Jaenisch, who is also a professor of biology at MIT. "Is the same pathway acting in the human system and can Wnt molecules be used to reprogram human cells?" he asks. "We don't know, but I think those are very important questions to investigate."


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Contact: Cristin Carr
carr@wi.mit.edu
617-324-0460
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Source:Eurekalert

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