News from IMIM
An international study led by researchers from IMIM (Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute) published in the journal Nature Communications has revealed that the intensity or efficiency of the activation of a protein called Notch, which is involved in the different phases of embryonic development, determines the fate of cells, i.e. if cells will form the aorta artery or blood (hematopoietic) stem cells. For artery cells, many Notch molecules need to be activated, whereas for hematopoietic cells many fewer are needed.
According to Dr. Anna Bigas, the coordinator of the group on stem cells and cancer at IMIM “to reach these levels of activation, we have proven that there is a competition between two proteins that activate the Notch molecule, i.e. between two ligands, in a way that one limits the activation generated by the other to form hematopoietic stem cells”.
Until now it was known, thanks to the studies conducted by this same group and others, that the Notch activation was essential to form arteries and hematopoietic stem cells. It was also known that the proteins responsible for this activation were ligands Delta4 and Jagged1, respectively. With this study, researchers have shown how this signal works to reach a certain level of activation and form the two different types of cells.
“Notch signal strength controls cell fate in the haemogenic endothelium”. Leonor Gama-Norton, Eva Ferrando, Cristina Ruiz-Herguido, Zenhy Liu, Jordi Guiu, Abul B.M.M.K. Islam, Sung-Uk Lee, Minhong Yan, Cynthia J. Guidos, Nuria López-Bigas, Takahiro Maeda, Lluis Espinosa, Raphael Kopan & Anna Bigas. Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms9510.