Examination of stem cells of endangered species reveals ancient genetic links between mammals

Scientists from the Institute of Integrated Cellular Materials Science (iCeMS) and the Wildlife Research Center of Kyoto University produced stem cells from the endangered Grévy’s zebra using human reprogramming factors. Further comprehensive genetic analyzes have identified key genes that are also found in human and mouse cells, providing insight into evolutionary conservation between mammals. The results were published in the journal Stem cells and development.

Mammalian stem cells have attracted the interest of researchers for their ability to transform into several types of cells, such as skin, muscle, egg and sperm. Pluripotent stem cells have the capacity for unlimited self-renewal and differentiation into any cell type. Despite their potential to help researchers understand the genome, few studies have looked at pluripotent stem cells from endangered species. Ken-ichiro Kamei from iCeMS teamed up with Miho Murayama and Yoshinori Endo from the Wildlife Research Center to produce and analyze induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from Grevy’s zebras, which are on the Red List of Threatened Species.

The research group generated iPSCs by converting Grévy’s zebra skin cells using human reprogramming factors that signal differentiated cells to revert to their stem cell state. The iPSCs were then cultured using the same methods as human iPSCs and demonstrated the potential to differentiate into different cell types. The zebra iPSCs exhibited characteristics similar to other mammalian iPSCs, such as their appearance, doubling rate, and colony formation method. These similarities suggest that Grevy’s zebra iPSCs are good candidates to develop for future research using methods similar to human iPSCs.

The researchers then performed RNA sequencing analyzes to better understand and characterize the cells. By examining the genes that were activated in zebra iPSCs, scientists were able to identify key genes, such as those associated with pluripotency and cell adhesion, that are also present in human and mouse stem cells, showing a remarkable genetic conservation between these mammals. species.

Successful production of zebra iPSCs could provide resources for functional research and artificial breeding of endangered species. Going forward, the researchers would like to build on their previous work and compare zebra iPSCs with other species to help advance understanding of the differences and similarities between mammalian pluripotent stem cells. “We would like to explore how to differentiate iPSCs from Grévy’s zebra into other cells. This could provide new options to save this species,” says Kamei.

Source of the story:

Material provided by Kyoto University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.