Researchers develop a new method for turning skin cells into pluripotent stem cells

July 06, 2018

Our bodies consist of many different kinds of cells, each with their own role. The Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka had made earlier the discovery, earning the Nobel Prize in 2012, that cells from adult skin can be converted to cells typical of early embryos, so-called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). This process is called reprogramming.

Up till now, reprogramming has only been possible by introducing the critical genes for the conversion, called Yamanaka factors, artificially into skin cells where they are not normally active at all.

Professor Timo Otonkoski at the University of Helsinki and Professor Juha Kere at Karolinska Institutet and King's College London, with their teams of researchers, have now for the first time succeeded in converting skin cells into pluripotent stem cells by activating the cell's own genes. This was achieved by using gene editing technology - called CRISPRa - that can be directed to activate genes. The method utilizes a blunted version of the Cas9 'gene scissors' that does not cut DNA and can therefore be used to activate gene expression without mutating the genome.

"CRISPR/Cas9 can be used to activate genes. This is an attractive possibility for cellular reprogramming because multiple genes can be targeted at the same time. Reprogramming based on activation of endogenous genes rather than overexpression of transgenes is also theoretically a more physiological way of controlling cell fate and may result in more normal cells. In this study, we show that it is possible to engineer a CRISPR activator system that allows robust reprogramming of iPSC", tells Professor Otonkoski.

An important key for the success was also activating a critical genetic element that was earlier found to regulate the earliest steps of human embryo development after fertilization. "Using this technology, pluripotent stem cells were obtained that resembled very closely typical early embryonal cells", Professor Kere says.

The discovery also suggests that it might be possible to improve many other reprogramming tasks by addressing genetic elements typical of the intended target cell type.

"The technology may find practical use in bio banking and many other tissue technology applications", says PhD student, MSc Jere Weltner, the first author of the article published in Nature Communications. "In addition, the study opens up new insights into the mechanisms controlling early embryonic gene activation."
-end-


University of Helsinki

Related Pluripotent Stem Cells Articles from Brightsurf:

A dance of histones silences transposable elements in pluripotent stem cells
A study lead by SciLifeLab Fellow Simon Elsässer elucidates the mechanism of a peculiar type of heterochromatin, used by embryonic stem cells to silence 'parasitic' DNA-elements within the context of their highly dynamic pluripotent chromatin.

More selective elimination of leukemia stem cells and blood stem cells
Hematopoietic stem cells from a healthy donor can help patients suffering from acute leukemia.

Ultrastructure of focal adhesion scaffold unveiled in human pluripotent stem cells
Focal adhesions are known as signalling platforms broadcasting the information of the biochemical and physical qualities of the extracellular matrix into intracellular signalling cascades.

First generation of induced pluripotent stem cells from domestic cats
Researchers have reported for the first time producing feline induced pluripotent stem cells (fiPSCs) from adult cells of domestic cats.

Simple protocol for assessing maturation of HPCs from induced pluripotent stem cells
Researchers have developed a guide to help labs standardize the production of mature hepatic-like cells (HPCs) from stem cells and easily compare gene expression of HPCs to actual human liver tissue.

Researchers characterize 'mutational burden' of human induced pluripotent stem cells
In a new study, published in this week's issue of Cell Reports, researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine scrutinized the whole genome sequences of 18 induced pluripotent stem cell lines derived from skin cells that they had reprogrammed to identify and characterize somatic mutations.

Researchers develop a new method for turning skin cells into pluripotent stem cells
Researchers at the University of Helsinki, Finland, and Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, have for the first time succeeded in converting human skin cells into pluripotent stem cells by activating the cell's own genes.

In mice, stem cells seem to work in fighting obesity! What about stem cells in humans?
This release aims to summarize the available literature in regard to the effect of Mesenchymal Stem Cells transplantation on obesity and related comorbidities from the animal model.

An index measures similarity between cancer cells and pluripotent stem cells
The new methodology measures tumor aggressiveness and the risk of relapse, helping doctors plan treatment, according to Brazilian scientists authors of a paper published in a special issue of the journal Cell.

Induced pluripotent stem cells could serve as cancer vaccine, Stanford researchers say
Induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, are a keystone of regenerative medicine.

Read More: Pluripotent Stem Cells News and Pluripotent Stem Cells Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.