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Discovered a protein that allows brain stem cells to generate new neurons

By 2 de July de 2014November 18th, 2020No Comments
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The study could shed light on the normal programme of activation of stem cells in the brain to produce neurons throught life.

Discovered a protein that allows brain stem cells to generate new neurons

Antonella Consiglio, researcher at the Institute of Biomedicine of the University of Barcelona (IBUB) –based in the PCB– participated in a study that could shed light on the normal programme of activation of stem cells in the adult brain to produce new neurons throughout life. The work, published on the online edition of the journal Nature Cell Biology, was coordinated by Isabel Fariñas, head of the Molecular Neurobiology Unit of the University of Valencia (UV). Experts Carlos López-Otín (University of Oviedo) and Robert Kypta (CIC bioGUNE, Bilbao) also participated in the study.

Our tissues are constantly being renewed thanks to the stem cells that generate new cells to replace old cells. These stem cells are located in very specific locations within tissues, known as microenvironments or niches and in which stem cells are related to other types of cells. Although the regulation of these cellular interactions is poorly understood in general, stem cells in the adult brain are attached to other cells of its niche by a cell adhesion protein called N-cadherin, acting as a link. This study, carried out with mice, has shown that there is a protein, called MT5-MMP, which is able to cut this link totally releasing stem cells from the control of the niche.

Antonella Consiglio carried out the in vivo manipulation of the N-cadherin protein by means of a lentivector. She participated in the production of the lentivector, its cellular validation and the stereotactic injection into mice brain necessary to carry out the study. “This technique was used in order examine the direct effects of N-cadherin without affecting the formation of adult brain stem cell niche, which may happen when transgenic mice are used”, explains the neurobiologist who is expert on gene therapy.

“The work allows us to better understand the relationship between stem cells and their environment and identifies molecular targets on which to act to enhance the activation of these cells during the renewal of tissues or in regenerative processes”, says Eva Porlan (UV), first author of the work.

Furthermore, it is important to take into account that the uncontrolled activation of stem cells can give rise to tumours. Therefore, the study is related to other research questions addressed to understand how stem cell normal activation is controlled in order to find therapeutic solutions to tumours caused by this loss of control. In addition, new data in the study can contribute to regenerative medicine, a field of science which seeks therapeutic solutions based on stem cells for degenerative processes, such as the Alzheimer or Parkinson.

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