You are here

    • You are here:
    • Home > One protein responsible for regulating ageing and differentiation of skin stem cells.

One protein responsible for regulating ageing and differentiation of skin stem cells.


Fri, 02/09/2011 - 18:00

One protein responsible for regulating ageing and differentiation of skin stem cells.

Researchers from the CRG have found that the behaviour of one protein involved in gene regulation influences the ageing and differentiation of the stem cells responsible for the maintenance of the skin.
The study reveals that the ageing and differentiation processes are independent of each other, which may aid a better understanding of cell regulation in the development of tumours.
The study will be published in the journal Cell Stem Cell on the 2nd of September.
Researchers from the Epithelial Homeostasis and Cancer group at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) have published a study in which they have identified a protein, known as Cbx4, essential for the regulation of skin stem cells. In this study they found that senescence (or ageing) processes and those of cell differentiation in stem cells are independent, and that the loss of regulation of both of them is the key to understanding tissue ageing and the development of one type of skin cancer.
All our tissues contain a population of adult stem cells which are responsible for daily tissue renewal. In the case of the skin, every day millions of damaged, or aged, cells are substituted by healthy cells. This cell replacement takes place thanks to a population of cells resident in the tissue, known as epidermal stem cells.
The epidermal stem cells are not constantly activated and they only divide and differentiate into functional cells when the tissue needs regenerating. Therefore, an excessive proliferation of these cells, or their early differentiation, is harmful to the renewal of the tissue resulting in its ageing, or in pathologies such as cancer. Specifically, one of the characteristics of cancer is the ability of the tumour cells to increase their proliferation, while repressing their differentiation and senescence (i.e., they do not age).
“We realized that when the activity of the protein Cbx4 mutated, the stem cells started to age rapidly but without differentiating. This was new for us: we had in front of us a cell with all the characteristics of a skin stem cell, but which was incapable of maintaining the tissue properties and looking like a much older cell”, says Salvador Aznar-Benitah, head of the research group which led the study.
The study opens up possibilities for a better understanding of the ageing process and the causes which result in the development of common skin tumours.
The article will appear in the journal Cell Stem Cell on the 2nd of September and was undertaken by researchers from the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), the Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) and with participants from the Wellcome Trust Cambridge Stem Cell Institute (UK). The study received support from the Spanish Ministry of Health and Agency for the Management of University and Research Grants (AGAUR).
Reference work: Luis et al., Regulation of Human Epidermal Stem Cell Proliferation and Senescence Requires Polycomb- Dependent and -Independent Functions of Cbx4, Cell Stem Cell (2011), doi:10.1016/j.stem.2011.07.013
For further information: Juan Sarasua, Press and Public Relations Office, Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG). Tel: 93 316 02 37.
Download available image: