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Progress in Circadian Rhythms And Stem Cells


Foundation Staff | November 18, 2011

Circadian Rhythms in Early Embryos

BSCRF's new mouse embryonic stem cells, PL034 (learn about the first incubator videomicroscope).

BSCRF scientists have derived two unique lines of stem cells that may lead to a breakthrough in the efficiency of stem cell derivation and expansion.

BSCRF scientists are following up their discovery that the genes that regulate the rhythms of daily life, circadian rhythm genes, may play important roles in stem cell derivation and stability in culture. Circadian rhythm genes regulate cells in the body by turning “on” and “off” over a 24-hour cycle in response to signals such as light/dark cycles, hormone pulses, and body temperature variations.

Currently, stem cells are cultured in constant temperature in the dark. If BSCRF’s research proves that circadian rhythm genes play important roles in stem cell division and stability, it could markedly improve the efficiency of stem cell derivation and expansion, urgently needed to produce major advances in stem cell therapy.

Circadian Rhythm Genes: turn “on” and “off” in response to the rhythm of daily life.

To conduct this research, foundation scientists are using a genetic technology that links the circadian genes of a mouse with a gene from a firefly. When the circadian gene is “on”, the mouse cells glow like a firefly; when the circadian gene is "off", the cells go dark. This mouse, “PER2Luc,” was derived by a circadian gene scientist several years ago and has been used by Dr. Fred Davis of Northeastern University, to study circadian gene expression in mouse tissues.

BSCRF scientists have derived two new lines of embryonic stem cells from PER2Luc embryos. Light emitted by the stem cells is detectable in Dr. Davis’s luminometer, but BSCRF scientists are developing microscope equipment to record light emitted by individual cells in order to compare standard stem cell culture conditions with new culture conditions that support circadian rhythm such as the temperature variations of a mouse. These new stem cells will also be useful to all scientists seeking to understand the relationship between circadian rhythm and cell functions.

This article is an excerpt from the 2011 Newsletter.

 

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