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Mar 24, 2008

Scientists Uncover Protein Involved in Maintaining ES Cell Pluripotency

  • A protein known as RE1-silencing transcription factor (REST) blocks the expression of an miRNA that prevents embryonic stem cells from reproducing themselves and causes them to differentiate into specific cell types, report scientists at the The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

    In studies using mouse embryonic stem cells, the researchers found that REST disarms a specific miRNA called miR-21. They observed that miR-21 suppresses embryonic stem cell self-renewal and is associated with a corresponding loss of expression of critical self-renewal regulators such as Oct4, Nanog, Sox2, and c-Myc. REST counters this by suppressing miR-21 to preserve the cells’ self-renewal and pluripotency, according to the investigators.

    These experiments also revealed that REST is bound to the gene chromatin of a set of miRNAs with the potential to target self-renewal genes and that REST controls transcription of 11 miRNAs.

    The study was published on March 23 in Nature.



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Scientifically Studying Ecstasy

MDMA (commonly known as the empathogen “ecstasy”) is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is reserved for compounds with no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. Two researchers from Stanford, however, call for a rigorous scientific exploration of MDMA's effects to identify precisely how the drug works, the data from which could be used to develop therapeutic compounds.

Do you agree that ecstasy should be studied for its potential therapeutic benefits?

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