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Researchers from the Hebrew University have identified the mechanisms that allow embryonic stem cells to become any cell in the human body

The discovery will allow in the future the "preparation" of cells under laboratory conditions to cure Alzheimer's and other degenerative diseases

From the right: PhD student Shai Meltzer and Dr. Eran Meshorer from the Department of Genetics at the Institute of Life Sciences at the Hebrew University
From the right: Doctoral student Shai Meltzer and Dr. Eran Meshorer from the Department of Genetics at the Institute of Life Sciences at the Hebrew University

Researchers at the Hebrew University examined the mechanisms that enable the plasticity of DNA in embryonic stem cells and thus their differentiation potential - their ability to become any type of cell.


The uniqueness of embryonic stem cells is their ability to divide endlessly and their ability to differentiate into the different types of cells. Understanding the mechanisms will allow in the future the "preparation" of different cells in the laboratory and their implantation in the body for the purpose of curing diseases characterized by the death of cells, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes and other degenerative diseases.

The groundbreaking research was carried out by PhD student Shay Meltzer under the guidance of Dr. Eran Meshorer from the Department of Genetics at the Institute of Life Sciences at the Hebrew University and was published this month in the prestigious journal Nature Communications.

"The cell's differentiation potential is expressed in its nucleus, where the DNA is found," explains Dr. Meshurer. "The connection between the DNA and proteins in an embryonic stem cell is more dynamic, that is, the connection between the proteins and the DNA is looser, so all options are still open to transform into any type of cell. This is different from a sorted cell, where the proteins bind to the DNA more strongly and are organized into more stable structures. During differentiation the plasticity of the DNA disappears and the cell loses its differentiation potential. In the research, we tried to understand what enables this dynamic, i.e. the loose connections, in embryonic stem cells."

The research was done using microscopic methods that test the strength of the bond between proteins and DNA in living cells. The proteins were labeled and the researchers tracked them to examine the dynamics of the association. They found chemical changes in the DNA packaging proteins. These are proteins responsible for the packaging of the DNA inside the cell nucleus. The chemical change found is a very common change in cells and especially in packaging proteins. "We found that two of those chemical changes, which are characteristic of embryonic stem cells only, enable the dynamism of the relationship between the proteins and the DNA, which in its plastic state gives the cell its differentiation potential," explains Dr. Meshorer.

The researchers also examined how the dynamics is affected by a unique protein (Lamin A) that binds part of the DNA to the nuclear envelope. "In embryonic stem cells this protein is not expressed and therefore their DNA is more plastic".

Later, the researchers were able to apply the new understanding of the mechanisms of plasticity and by using drugs that create chemical changes in the packaging proteins were able to increase and decrease the plasticity of DNA in the embryonic stem cells and thereby affect their differentiation potential.

"Understanding the plasticity of DNA in embryonic stem cells will allow us to control them, increase or decrease the dynamics of the proteins that bind DNA and thereby increase or decrease their differentiation potential," concludes Dr. Meshorer.

7 תגובות

  1. Laitzik c
    For ten years we have known about the potential to cure serious diseases with the help of stem cells. In the current study, the mechanism that works in the stem cells is revealed. I think it would be fair if we think positively and strengthen the researchers and I join Yuval Chaikin and the commenter in wishing success.
    good week
    Sabdarmish Yehuda

  2. Itzik, if you search tov tov you will also find many opposite examples of advanced technologies of all kinds that today are already part of our everyday life and only 10 years ago you read about them as "noisy" developments being tried in research laboratories.

  3. Father, I have no problem with the referral mechanism.
    I meant the idea that almost 10 years after the publication of that "outrageous" article, no results are seen in the field, and it seems to me that this will be the case with the idea of ​​this article regarding stem cells.
    It is true that maybe one in a hundred of the ideas come to fruition for various reasons, lack of budget, lack of motivation to finish the research (what's wrong with living on a promising research budget for years), politics of science, and more.
    The context just left me with a feeling of disappointment that I wanted to share with the rest.

  4. Father, for a long time now it is not possible to enlarge the images with a mouse click, is this a problem that will be solved soon?

    Until you finally added this option to the website, it held for a short period and it doesn't work again?

  5. There is a reference to an article from 2003 Research: Fetal stem cells may help cure muscular dystrophy.
    I estimate that in 10 years there will be a reference to this article with the same results in the field.

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