Informatics Keeping stem cells from changing fatesJohns Hopkins researchers have determined why certain stem cells are able to stay stem cells. The report in the June 4 issue of Cell Stem Cell reveals that an enzyme that changes the way DNA is packaged in cells allows specific genes to be turned on and off, thereby preventing a stem cell from becoming another cell type. Each cell has to fit in 6 feet of highly organized and carefully packaged DNA. Some regions of the DNA are more tightly compacted than others and this structure is dynamic. There are specific enzymes that change how condensed the DNA is to help turn genes on and off. The genes that are turned off generally are found in tightly condensed DNA. To turn genes on, the DNA around those genes is loosened so that activators and other proteins can interact with the DNA. The Johns Hopkins researchers believed that restructuring the DNA by proteins that make up chromosomes could play a role in deciding if a stem cell was going to change into another cell or stay a stem cell, since change in the DNA packaging would allow for many genes to be turned off… Read full this story
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