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Shanghai Team Analyzes Mechanism that Enables Adult Cells to Behave Like Embryonic Stem Cells


Agilent Technologies Inc. announced its collaboration with a team from the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences and Tongi University that has achieved new insight into how adult cells can be induced to act like embryonic stem cells (ESC), with the ability to form any type of tissue known as "pluripotency."

"The value of finding alternatives to embryonic stem cells would obviously be tremendous, and the ability to induce pluripotency in adult cells, discovered in 2006, is considered a breakthrough," said Jian Li of Agilent Technologies Shanghai, one of the article's coauthors. "Now we're gaining new understanding into how this pluripotency was actually induced."

Their findings were published in the journal "Cell Research," in an article titled "Yamanaka factors critically regulate the developmental signaling network in mouse embryonic stem cells" (Cell Research, 2008 18:1177-1189). The researchers observed a developmental signaling network of 16 signaling pathways, including nine that had not previously been assigned roles in maintaining or inducing pluripotency.

The study used Agilent chromatin immunoprecipitation-on-chip (ChIP-on-chip) and gene expression microarrays to study molecules known as "Yamanaka factors" and their roles in inducing pluripotency in mouse cells.

Agilent provided the microarray kits for this research under an Agilent grant issued in 2008. Microarrays are glass wafers containing large numbers of DNA probes used to analyze genomic activity. ChIP-on-chip microarrays are used to observe activity at "promoter regions" on the genome, where chemical events activate and deactivate various genes to control cellular functioning.

Source: Agilent Technologies