Study details how human embryonic stem cells regulate development
Yale researchers described how three genes within human embryonic stem cells regulate development in the April 6 issue of Cell Stem Cell. Embryonic stem cells form soon after conception and can become any type of cell in the body. As development progresses, cells become more specialized and eventually lose the ability to become other cell types, they can only self-renew. The study found that three genes are active in human development: Nanog, Oct 4 and Sox 2. Nanog pairs with Oct 4 to regulate differentiation of neuro-ectoderm cells that give rise to neurons and other central nervous system cells. Sox 2 inhibits the differentiation of mesoderm, which give rise to muscles and many tissue types. Oct 4 works with other genes and regulates ectoderm, mesoderm, endoderm, and the creation of new stem cells.