Fruit fly bodies bank stem cells | Science News

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Fruit fly bodies bank stem cells

Protective pockets hold reserves until it's time for stem cells to become intestinal cells

By
5:23pm, January 7, 2010

Stem cells lead sheltered lives. A new study of fruit flies shows how stem cell precursors create their own niches where the developing cells can safely hang out. These cell banks give the fly a reserve of stem cells to draw on later to create and replenish organs, make new cells or repair wounds.

A stem cell in the fruit fly gut divides, creating a daughter cell that wraps itself around its mother and siblings and prevents them from turning into specialized tissues, researchers from Columbia University report online January 7 in Science.

The stem cell, called an adult midgut progenitor, is a precursor to intestinal cells. The team found that the stem cell sends a signal, in the form of the protein Notch, to one of its daughters. The daughter cell then becomes a peripheral cell, which acts “like an octopus covering other cells with its tentacles,” says Benjamin Ohlstein, a geneticist and developmental biologist at Columbia University Medica

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