New Insight Into Cellular Reprogramming Mechanism

Researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston have gained new insight into the mechanism of reprogramming human somatic stem cells into induced pluripotent stem cells, cells that have been brought back from one particular cell type to a state where they can become any type of specialized cell. Dr. George Daley, head of the Stem Cell Transplantation Program, and Dr. Thorsten Schlaeger, head of the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Core, worked with colleagues at Harvard Stem Cell Institute, the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and their findings will appear in this month’s issue of Nature Genetics. The paper has already been published online.

The researchers identified a number of large intergenic non-coding RNAs (lincRNAs) – a type of gene in the mammalian genome – which appear to be involved in somatic stem cell pluripotency. One lincRNA in particular was found to enhance cellular reprogramming of fibroblasts and blood cells. Researchers hope this information will lead to improved efficiency in their methods of creating induced pluripotent stem cells.

While many lincRNAs are known, most of their biological roles have yet to be discovered. This is the first demonstration of the role of specific lincRNAs in the process of somatic cellular reprogramming.

For more information, read “Regenerative medicine tunes its instruments” on Vector, Children’s Hospital Boston’s science and clinical information blog.