Scientists Uncover Role of Lamins in Stem Cells

First Posted: Jul 13, 2013 11:18 AM EDT

Scientists have been able to uncover some clues regarding the amazing powers of stem cells. According to new work from Carnegie's Yixian Zheng and Haiyang Chen, they've helped identify an important component for regulating stem cell niches that impact on tissue building and function that could have potential implications for disease research.

Lamins, known as proteins that the major structural component of the material that lines the inside of a cell's nucleus, have diverse functions, including suppressing gene expression and have been rather difficult to understand how mutations in them can cause diseases to grow in specific tissues and organs, including skeletal muscles, heart muscles and fat.

Background information from the study notes that a group of human diseases called laminopathies, which include premature aging, can create defects in proteins called lamins. The study focused on examining whether lamins would link stem cell niche function to healthy tissue building and maintenance.

To better understand the tissue-specific effects of lamin mutations, the team focused on fruit fly testis-known as one of the best-studied stem cell niche systems. Fruit fly testis, biochemical cross-signaling between the different types of cells that make up the niche environment ensures proper maintenance and differentiation of the testis system's stem cells.

By using a technique available in fruit fly studies, the team demonstrated that lamins were a necessary component of supporting niche organization, which can help regulate proper proliferation and differentiation of germline stem cells in fruit fly testis.

"These results could have implications for the role of lamins in other types of stem cell niches," Zheng said, via a press release. "These findings could contribute to the study of diseases caused by lamina-based tissue degeneration. For example, different lamin mutations could disrupt the organization of different niches in the body, which then leads to degeneration in tissues."

More information regarding the study can be found in Cell Stem Cell. 

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