Brennan Coulter
Jul 18, 2012

Improved Understanding of Embryonic Stem Cells

Researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have improved our understanding of the unique pluripotency of embryonic stem cells. Focusing their studies on the pathways in embryonic stem cells that cause biological change without a corresponding change in DNA, the researchers discovered two things. First, chromatin (which is comprised of the cell’s DNA and structural/regulatory proteins) is less compacted in embryonic stem cells, allowing them the functional plasticity/pluripotency to turn into any kind of cell. Second, lamin A (a nuclear protein that binds and anchors compacted chromatin to the cell’s nuclear envelope) is absent from embryonic stem cells, possibly allowing a freer, more dynamic chromatin state. What’s so exciting about these new understandings is that they could be the gateway to the production of the world’s first artificial embryonic stem cells, expediting future stem cell research and use.