The Niche

So many papers, so little time

There are more cool papers published than I can keep track of. In an effort to clear my head, I’ve mentioned and linked to just a few, going back to January. Please point out your favourites that I’ve left out.

What makes HSCs stop and go? (and can we watch?)

The list of exactly what genes haematopoietic stem cells require is constantly debated, revised and re-revised. Professor Iconoclast (aka Sean Morrison of University of Michigan in Ann Arbor) says that HSCs do just fine without N-cadherin. Meanwhile, another paper says HSCs do seem to need at least one of the pair Lyl1 and Scl, though each is singly dispensable. And E2A proteins are necessary for maintenance. Two more papers show that p53 is important for stem cell quiescence and that it can be monitored in more ways than one might think.

(Cancer) stem cells are survivors

A new Nature paper shows how breast cancer stem cells and their healthy counterparts protect their DNA from radiation. I wrote about how that paper came to be. See also a recent review on how cancer stem cells can be targeted.Jim Till (yes, that’s the same Till of Till and McCulloch) has listed articles on Clarke’s and Reya’s and others’ work on his cancer stem cell blog.

More mouse cures from iPS


We’ve already seen iPS cells help out rodent models of sickle cell anemia and Parkinson’s. A team of researchers from Keio University has now presented results at a symposium, showing the same thing with spinal cord injury.

Bone marrow and lung repair

As yet another data point in a controversial topic, a paper in Journal of Clinical Investigation finds that mesenchymal stem cells can help with lung repair in the mouse.

Human embryonic stem cell–derived photoreceptors help mice see a little light

This paper in Cell Stem Cell is summarized well in Nature Biotechnology.

What are those adult neural stem cells near the lateral ventricle?

A perspective published this month in Nature Reviews Neuroscience describes papers that try to pinpoint where new adult brain cells come from, what sorts of cells give rise to them and what tools are best used to track them down.

The many faces of Wnt

No one can study stem cells for long without running into Wnt and all its bewildering isoforms and signaling pathways. This ‘survival guide’ in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology sorts, tracks and charts Wnt’s activity, and while the focus is on skin, the analysis goes deeper.

Licking leukaemia

We wrote about theNature paper from Pier Giuseppe Pelicci at the University of Milan, Italy, about p21 and how stalling cell division keeps leukaemia stem cells going, and so did my fellow enthusiast at Hematopoiesis, who used PubMed to probe some questions raised, particularly about p21 and the errant BCR/ABL kinase.

Another Nature paper, this one from Tannishtha Reya at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, shows that blocking the hedgehog pathway alongside the frequently targeted BCR/ABL pathway might calm leukaemia stem cells. See our write-up.

Finally, there is a Cell Stem Cell paper showing that leukaemia stem cells activate an embryonic gene program. That paper comes from researchers at Stanford University in California and is accompanied by a perspective written by Catriona Jamieson. This work was presaged, in some ways, by a couple papers that Nature Reports Stem Cells previously covered.

Stem cells on the move

We covered a paper this last month that showed how different signals called forth different types of progenitor cells from the bone marrow. And now there’s a review in Bone Marrow Transplantation, that’s mainly focused on hematopoietic stem cells.

A plea for feedback

As much as I hurried and relied on stream of consciousness, putting this together took time that I could have spent on articles for the main site. Was it was useful? What might make it more useful? Let me know at theniche[at]nature.com Also, were there many articles that you wanted to access and couldn’t?

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