, Volume 29, Issue 6, pp 533-538
Date: 04 Jun 2010

Molecular characterization of isolated from murine adult tissues very small embryonic/epiblast like stem cells (VSELs)

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Pluripotent very small embryonic/epiblast derived stem cells (VSELs) as we hypothesize are deposited at begin of gastrulation in developing tissues and play an important role as backup population of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) for tissue committed stem cells (TCSCs). We envision that during steady state conditions these cells may be involved in tissue rejuvenation and in processes of regeneration/repair after organ injuries. Molecular analysis of adult bone marrow (BM)-derived purified VSELs revealed that they i) express pluripotent stem cells markers e.g., Oct4, Nanog, Klf-4, SSEA-1 ii) share several markers characteristic for epiblast as well as migratory primordial germ cells (PGCs), and iii) possess a unique pattern of genomic imprinting (e.g., erasure of differently methylated regions at Igf2-H19 and Rasgrf1 loci and hypermethylation at KCNQ1 and Igf2R loci). This supports that VSELs are related to epiblast-derived migrating PGC-like cells and, despite their pluripotent stem cell character, changes in the epigenetic signature of imprinted genes keep these cells quiescent in adult tissues and prevent them from teratoma formation. In contrast epigenetic changes/mutations that lead to activation of imprinted genes could potentially lead to tumor formation by these cells. Mounting evidence accumulates that perturbation of expression of imprinted genes is a common phenomenon observed in developing tumors.