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New 'control knobs' for stem cells identified
Date:12/3/2008

differentiated cells compared with undifferentiated cells and that hMSCs show different membrane potential profiles during bone vs. fat differentiation.

To determine whether hyperpolarization was functionally required for differentiation, the scientists depolarized the hMSCs by exposing them either to high levels of extracellular potassium ions or to ouabain, a compound that blocks the transfer of ions in and out of cells. Both treatments disrupted the normal increase in negative voltage that occurs during differentiation and suppressed fat and bone cell differentiation markers.

In contrast, treatment with hyperpolarizing reagents up-regulated bone cell markers indicating that voltage changes are not merely permissive for differentiation but can act as an instructive signal to either induce or inhibit differentiation.

More study is needed to determine whether hyperpolarization also determines which specific type of cell stem cells will differentiate into, according to the Tufts researchers.


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Contact: Kim Thurler
kim.thurler@tufts.edu
617-627-3175
Tufts University
Source:Eurekalert

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