JAN 31, 2017 01:18 PM PST

Gene Essential for Reprogramming Human Amniotic Stem Cells

Stem cells were originally induced to become pluripotent, or able to develop into any cell type in the body, using genetic manipulations by viral transduction. It has since been discovered that stem cells can be chemically induced, a much easier and sure-fire method for pluripotency. In addition, pluripotency has initially been studied in controversial embryonic stem cells.

Stem cells are able to transform into any other type of cells with different functions.

Published this month in Molecular Therapy, scientists have now confirmed that they can achieve 100% chemical induction of human amniotic stem cells as long as the gene OCT4 is re-activated. Without activation of OCT4, induction is not successful.

The research, led by University College London and Heinrich Heine University, demonstrates the flexibility to induce amniotic stem cells as opposed to the ethically challenging embryonic stem cells, creating pluripotent amniotic cells that behave just as their embryonic counterparts would. Human amniotic stem cells can be induced to pluripotency within 2-3 weeks of harvest, and can maintain their pluripotent properties even if they have been frozen and thawed.

Knowing that the OCT4 gene is one in a set of genes that becomes reactivated during induction, the team tested inducing the cells with and without OCT4 in addition to the other genes. They found that OCT4 appears to be the one gene required for induction success. If OCT4 is not reactivated, the chemical induction of the amniotic cells will not occur.

“Chemical reprogramming of amniotic cells is very efficient as all the cells treated are successfully reprogrammed.  We now know the gene OCT4 is essential and must be reactivated to induce pluripotency using only chemicals. If we block OCT4, the chemical cocktail that we used does not work. Therefore, the efforts to develop chemical reprogramming need to focus on reactivating OCT4,” said Dr Pascale Guillot from the UCL Institute for Women’s Health, who led the study with Professor Paolo De Coppi from the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health and Professor James Adjaye, Director of the Institute for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine at Heinrich Heine University, Duesseldorf.

Guillot and colleagues performed single cell analysis and functional assays to demonstrate that chemical treatment created a full population of self-renewing pluripotent cells. Pluripotency is characterized by a short G1 cell cycle phase, a dependence on glycolytic metabolism, expression of epigenetic modifications on histones 3 and 4, and reactivation of endogenous OCT4 and downstream targets. The findings identify the first time pluripotent status of human chemically-induced amniotic stem cells has been achieved.

Once reprogrammed to pluripotency, the amniotic stem cells can develop into any cell type in the human body. The results suggest significant potential in using a person’s own amniotic cells that have been induced and then frozen to treat any issues that person might have later in life.

Sources: UCL News, Molecular Therapy, JMCB

About the Author
  • I love all things science and am passionate about bringing science to the public through writing. With an M.S. in Genetics and experience in cancer research, marketing and technical writing, it is a pleasure to share the latest trends and findings in science on LabRoots.
You May Also Like
SEP 12, 2018
Microbiology
SEP 12, 2018
Researchers ID a Link Between a Bacterial Strain and Gastric Cancer
Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium that causes stomach ulcers, and can lead to gastric cancer....
OCT 09, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
OCT 09, 2018
Using Genetics to Predict Height, Bone Density, Educational Attainment
This tool might be used in the future to forecast many different traits....
OCT 14, 2018
Technology
OCT 14, 2018
Computational Technology Uses Genetics To Solve Crime
When detectives tracked down the Golden State Killer, who terrorized the state of California during the 1970s and 1980, they used an online genealogical da...
OCT 15, 2018
Microbiology
OCT 15, 2018
Surprising Source of Hospital-acquired Infections is Found
Is it a sick visitor, a dirty hospital gown, or the unwashed hands of a clinician? No, the infection is coming from inside the patient!...
NOV 15, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
NOV 15, 2018
How Technology can Help Feed the World
As the world's population grows, plant scientists know that the race is on to develop technologies that will help feed everyone....
NOV 20, 2018
Videos
NOV 20, 2018
A Major Grant Aims to Improve our Understanding of Age-related Cognitive Decline
The American Heart Association has teamed up with the Allen Initiative in Brain Health and Cognitive Impairment to award the Salk Institute $19.2 million....
Loading Comments...