Recommended reads: stem cells on the brain, heart, COVID

There are weeks when it seems like papers on stem cells keep popping up. It can be a challenge to keep up with reading all the papers you want to read. Other times it is cell biology news that keeps breaking. The big news of the past week or so was unfortunately the concerning development on the halt of BlueBird Bio’s gene therapy trial for sickle cell.

Here are the many papers of this week that struck me as interesting.

ascl1 brain stem cells harris et al cell stem cell 2021 fig. 6
The authors report that ‘Ascl1 protein levels decrease with time and cause progressive changes in NSC behavior.’ Harris, et al, Cell Stem Cell 2021 Fig. 6 screenshot.

Brain stem cell maintenance in mice and Ascl1

Coordinated changes in cellular behavior ensure the lifelong maintenance of the hippocampal stem cell population, Cell Stem Cell. There is an ongoing debate about stem cells in the adult human brain, but it seems clearer that adult mice still have stem cells and ongoing neurogenesis in their brains. This paper uses the mouse as a model to provide insights into adult brain stem cell programming and maintenance.

It’ll be interesting to see if this same normal Ascl1 mechanism described in the new paper is at work in people. The main data on Ascl1 is in Fig. 6, which is included above.

They report that Ascl1 may be the key factor that maintains stem cell populations in the aging mouse brain. My own lab reported in our new paper last summer that ASCL1 may be of particular importance downstream of mutant histone H3.3 in high-grade childhood gliomas.

Stem cells and the Heart

Additional notable stem cell pubs

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