In the July 6 issue of Cell Stem Cell, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine describe how human epidermal progenitor cells and stem cells control transcription factors to avoid premature differentiation, preserving their ability to produce new skin cells throughout life.
The findings provide new insights into the role and importance of exosomes and their targeted gene transcripts, and may help point the way to new drugs or therapies for not just skin diseases, but other disorders in which stem and progenitor cell populations are affected.
Stem cells, of course, are specialized cells capable of endlessly replicating to become any type of cell needed, a process known as differentiation. Progenitor cells are more limited, typically differentiating into a specific type of cell and able to divide only a fixed number of times.
Throughout life, human skin self-renews. Progenitor and stem cells deep in the epidermis constantly produce new skin cells called keratinocytes that gradually rise to the surface where they will be sloughed off. One of the ways that stem and progenitor cells maintain internal health during their lives is through the exosome a collection of approximately 11 proteins responsible for degrading and recycling different RNA elements, such as messenger RNA that wear out or that contain errors resulting in the translation of dysfunctional proteins which could potentially be deleterious to the cell.
"In short," said George L. Sen, PhD, assistant professor of medicine and cellular and molecular medicine, "the exosome functions as a surveillance system in cells to regulate the normal turnover of RNAs as well as to destroy RNAs with errors in them."
Sen and colleagues Devendra S. Mistry, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow, and staff scientist Yifang Chen, MD, PhD, discovered that in the epidermis the exosome functions to target and destroy mRNAs that encode for t
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University of California - San Diego