News from CRG
Our skin renews, heals wounds, and regenerates the hair that covers it thanks to a small group of stem cells. These cells continually produce new ones, which appear on the skin surface after a few days. A study led by CRG Alumnus and ICREA researcher Salvador Aznar Benitah undertaken at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) has identified two proteins that are fundamental to conserve skin stem cells and has shown that without these proteins these cells are lost. The study, which has been published today in Cell Stem Cell, has involved Luciano Di Croce’s group at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (acronym in Spanish CRG).
The proteins identified, Dnmt3a y Dnmt3b, are crucial for the self-renewal of skin stem cells as they trigger the first step of the genetic programme of these cells. “Without them, this programme is not activated and the stem cells collapse and disappear from the tissue,” explains Salvador Aznar Benitah, head of the Stem Cells and Cancer lab at IRB Barcelona.
Lorenzo Rinaldi, a “la Caixa” PhD student, also a CRG Alumnus, and first author of the study, has identified all the regions of the genome that harbour these proteins. Rinaldi has observed that these two proteins exert their activity on gene enhancers and superenhancers—regions far away from the genes that can increase gene transcription speed up to 200-fold—among other regions.
Lorenzo Rinaldi, Debayan Datta, Judit Serrat, Lluis Morey, Guiomar Solanas, Alexandra Avgustinova, Enrique Blanco, José Ignacio Pons, David Gomez Matallanas, Alex Von Kriegsheim, Luciano Di Croce, and Salvador Aznar Benitah. "Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b Associate with Enhancers to Regulate Human Epidermal Stem Cell Homeostasis" Cell Stem Cell (28 July 2016)