Posts Tagged ‘Dicer’

Modulating Stem Cells with Unread Genome: microRNAs

Author, Demet Sag, PhD

Life is simple but complicated. Both simple specific sequences and the big picture approach as a system are necessary in applications for a coherent outcome. Thus, providing an engineered whole cell as a system of correction for “Stem Cell Therapy” may resolve unmet health problems.  Only 1% of the genome is read and the remaining 99% is not a junk but useful. The energy is never getting lost and there is a tight conservation economy in living organisms.  As an example microRNAs that are one of the families of untranslated sequences can be utilized for a stem cell therapy for cancer.  Their power lies at transcription control that may direct the cell expression at exact time, and place for diagnosing, imaging and treatment.  The development of cell biology and understanding of genetic data from model organisms will assist to design a well-working mechanism.

In 1964, after their elegant experiment Till et. al demonstrated that special stimulating factors caused the differentiation and made new colonies. They suggested that “…since stem cells are responsible for continued cell production, it would appear probable that such stem cells are the sites of action for control mechanisms.”  They also pointed out simply that some cells do continue to be stem cells and some do loose the plasticity as they differentiate. Regardless of the two major unescapable events, “the birth” and “the death”, even though can be less predictable than the other, life must go on.  This nature brought an attention to regenerate the cells for our need.

One of the main issues in stem cell biology is figuring out how to re-activate once upon a time fast dividing cells, while the rest of the cells were not even active. The short answer is escaping the control gates with the precise keys without creating any immune responses or toxicity. The easiest and safest method is to re-write instructions of the cells for making a function based on comparative system biology and development. These retrained, resensitized and reprogrammed cells make possible changes to produce right amount of protein(s) on time and its place.

Functional genomics approach to a system within conserved life mechanisms of organisms (C elegans, D. melanogaster, A. nidulans, S. cerevisiae and M. musculus) is necessary for sound principles development.

The first resolution comes from the worm, C. elegans.  The early founding fathers of these special 20-22 bp untranslated specific sequences that control time in development and possible mRNA regulation are called microRNAs. This significant signature sequences and biomarkers control gene regulation for a proper protein expression even though these whistles and bells are not even expressed. Since they are included in 99% of the genome, they must have a voice in the system.  These miRNAs are shown first time in C.elegans were lin4 and let7.  When they were mutated, the cells went onto extra cell proliferation like it would in cancer. Later, in many metazoans it was discovered and shown that these special RNAs negatively regulate specific gene expression during important developmental stages of life such as cell proliferation, apoptosis and stress response.  For example the famous Drosha and Dicer, members of the RNA H III family, is acting sequentially in Drosophila bind to un-translated region of mRNA that either preventing the expression of the protein or causing to be degraded by RISC (He and Hannon 2004).

Dicer is important in biogenesis of miRNA pathway and Drosophila ovary is a great tool to study embryonic stem cells.   Analysis of Dicer-1 (dcr-1) germline mutants showed that these mutants have fewer cysts because at G1/S checkpoint the activity of Decapo, a cyclin kinase inhibitor, depends on Dicer-1.  As a result, cell division mechanisms require functional miRNA. In addition, these miRNAs also make the cells “insensitive” to the environmental influences. The new epigenetic studies  include their function for oncology RD to increase efficacy and survival rate of the treatment along with personalized genomic data.

The new technologies screening of the genome or doing chromosome walk became less labor intense and more informative like miccroarray technology, faster sequencing. Lu’s group designed a microarray analysis on comparative differential expression of miRNAs between healthy and tumor in human.  Their data show that there is a difference between these populations besides having specific loci for miRNAs in the genome (Lu et al. 2005).  The study by O’Dennel’s group reaffirmed their finding. Microarray screening showed several miRNAs are residing at the chromosome 13 region.  These miRNAs are also interacting specifically with MYC to modulate the cell genesis during cancer development (O’Dennel et al. 2005).

Yet, recent evidences show that miRNAs also manipulate regulation of transcription and epigenetics (Wang et. al 2013).  As a result, nanomolecules without affecting the cellular life with specific miRNAs help us to imagine of this complexity and to receive the snapshot of the condition (Conde et al. 2013).

Furthermore, there is a complexity to be included in the design of molecules.  The system mechanism may bring solutions for human health.  Thus, modulated stem cells with engineered special future based on not only one gene-one enzyme theory but also many/one gene, one/many enzyme. For example, Schwartz group showed that polycomb group of genes made up of several hundred genes manipulate a complete function in the system of organism (Schwartz et al. 2007). First polycombs were found in fruit flies (Drosophila), but they are recognized that they function to regulate homeotic genes both in mammals and insects. Now, it is known that these polycomb complexes play a huge global role in organizing epigenetics by enforcing repressed states, but balanced by Trithorax.  Interestingly, even same genes function in both germline and somatic sex determination pathway, there are different cell-cell communications, signal transductions and players in regulation mechanisms of Drosophila (Salz 2013; Ng et al. 2013).

Therefore, the studies modulating cells by engineering oligos may fix a health problem. Immunomodulation of immune cells APC (antigen presenting cells) / DC (dentritic cells) / T (T/B), reprogramming stem cells and restructuring of the membrane receptors for increased sensitivity to protect/locate/activate are few examples of possible platforms to develop products.

Life is simple but complex, also there is a simple solution, since human is the most resilient living who will answer how to cure what is broken to survive.


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Other related article appeared on this Open Access Online Scientific Journal, including:


When Clinical Application of miRNAs?

Larry H Bernstein, MD, FACP, 3/3/2013


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