Regulation of Stem Cell Activity Important for Proper Tissue Regeneration

The body’s natural healing ability is controlled by the actions of the stem cells. When an organ is damaged, the stem cells of the organ are activated which produces new cells for tissue regeneration. However, this stem cell activity needs to be controlled as too much of this activity might lead to cancer or other diseases. The on-going research on the stem cell biology is unraveling the control mechanism which might maintain the balance between proper cell function and efficient tissue regeneration. Biologists Heinrich Jasper, Benoit Biteau and Christine Hochmuth, and geneticist Dirk Bohmann of the University of Rochester Medical Center, found out that the oxidative stress is the main reason behind this regulation of the stem cell activity.

The scientists studied the stem cells of the intestines of Drosophila (fruit flies) Their genetic structure of the intestinal stem cells is quite similar to that of the humans. Two genes, Keap1 and Nrf2. were studied which are known to regulate the cellular response to the oxidative stress. It was learnt that Nrf2 stops the division of the stem cell and the division can only take place when the Nrf2 is repressed.

It was noticed that when the fruit fly’s intestine was damaged, the proteins send signals which activate the stem cells. Keap1 inhibits function of the Nrf2 in the stem cells, making the stem cell division and the regeneration of the tissue possible. The study can help the scientists to learn to control the stem cell function and safely replace the damaged tissues. The study will be published in the journal Cell Stem Cell shortly

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