Today, a team of microbiologists from Vanderbilt University shed light on some fundamental aspects regarding the role of proteins in maintaining life and the functions of stem cells – these are cells that can become absolutely any type of cells in the process of their development. The focus of the research team centered around the study of MCL-1, a protein belonging to the family protein group BCL-2, which can prevent cell death as a process. And here the studies of specialists have demonstrated that the MCL-1 protein is most directly associated with maintaining the “identity” and functions of stem cells, allowing them to show their pluripotency.
Pluripotency is the ability of stem cells to become cells of any type, and this process occurs during the internal mechanisms of cell mitochondria development. By publishing their article with the results found in the scientific journal Stem Cell Reports, scientists from Vanderbilt University determined that the MCL-1 protein performs this role of supporting the functioning of stem cells precisely through the internal mitochondrial matrix – thus, when the inhibitor scatters the protein, the process of stem cell differentiation . In addition, the role of this MCL-1 protein is complemented by its ability to influence the formation of a specific form in stem cells, which has not yet been discovered.
In addition, additional studies have shown that the mitochondria themselves undergo a more dynamic process of development and interconnection, which also indicates the importance of this protein in this separate process.
Independent stem cell research is very helpful in finding new relationships between previously undetected biological agents – both between cells and between their processes. That is why the study of the possibilities and functions of the BCL-2 family of proteins is one of the highest priority tasks for identifying the possibility of artificially developing this set of properties – which potentially allows us to find new types of therapies or drugs aimed at working with these cells.