By looking at the metabolome of stem cells, Sheng Ding and Gary Siuzdak, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA, have identified about 60 previously unknown metabolites associated with the progression of stem cells to mature cells.
Metabolites were isolated by LCMS and the data analyzed by the open-access bioinformatics software, XCMS, which allowed identification of metabolite and peptide features that differed between the sample groups. They found stem cell metabolites had high levels of unsaturated structures, but this decreased as the cells matured.
By blocking oxidation of the unsaturated metabolites, the researchers were able to prevent the stem cells from differentiating into mature heart and nerve cells. Conversely, when specific oxidized metabolites were introduced into the culture, stem cell differentiation was promoted.
- O. Yanes et al.
Nat. Chem. Biol. 2010, published online: 02 May 2010