Researchers at the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research at the University of Toronto have found an interesting quirk in Stem Cells – their genetic expression can be highly influenced by the medium they are cultured / grown on.
The U of T researchers used CRISPR technology to study which genes are essential for embryonic stem cell proliferation, and created a new technique to switch genes on and off. In the process, they found that two common substrates have a previously-unknown profound effect on the cells’ molecular properties. The effect appears to be related to substrate molecules interacting with the stem cells’ receptors.
The researchers were surprised to find the extent of molecular differences of the stem cells, depending on whether they were grown on MEFs or laminin. The scientists found that as many as half of all genes that were ‘turned on’ differed between the cells grown on either medium. The study also uncovered several novel genes essential for stem cell growth on both MEFs and laminin that will be the focus of future research.
These findings are pivotal and represent an uncontrolled factor in previous stem cell research. For example, two groups of researchers studying the same application for stem cell technology may have seen different results based on the growth medium they used.
You can find the original story at UoT’s website.