Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Standby Stem Cells
06 December 2017

Standby Stem Cells

To keep milk fresh, pop it in the fridge. To keep biscuits crunchy, use an airtight container. To keep stem cells ready for action, you'll need a stem cell niche – an environment with the right conditions to maintain them. Researchers ask how these niches are formed using medaka. These fish have sensory organs called neuromasts (pictured) along their back, which need to be repaired using stem cells throughout their lifetime. Fluorescently tagging the cells that made up neuromasts allowed the team to track the cells from development into adulthood. Two cell types were key to neuromast integrity: neural stem cells (green) and border cells (magenta). Neural stem cells encouraged skin cells around them to convert into border cells – creating the ideal niche. Destroying border cells disrupted neuromast integrity, revealing how vital it is for stem cells to create a niche around them so they can survive and carry out repairs.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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