An investigation by the National Research Council (CSIC), published today in the journal Cell Reports has analyzed the division of precursor stem cells of motor neurons of the spinal cord.

According to their results, the stem cell symmetric division to generate identical daughter with proliferative capacity is mediated by growth factor Sonic Hedgehog. This growth factor is a protein previously known for its role in embryonic development of organs.

The researcher of the Institute of Molecular Biology of Barcelona, CSIC Elisa Martí, who led the research in collaboration with the University of Barcelona researcher Javier Buceta, explains: "This information has been obtained by a quantitative mathematical model we developed and experimental data enabling us to study and predict how to control different types of stem cell division during development of the nervous system. "

The balance between the various types of stem cell division determines the balanced growth of tissues and organs. Similarly, alterations in the path of action of Sonic Hedgehog have been associated with the occurrence of tumors. Therefore, Martí emphasizes the importance of this finding that "might help to understand how this factor favors the apparition".


Murielle Saade, Irene Gutiérrez-Vallejo, Gwenvael Le Dréau, M. Angeles Rabadan, David G. Miguez, Javier Buceta and Elisa Martí. Sonic Hedgehog Signaling Switches the Mode of Division in the Developing Nervous System. Cell Reports. 10.1016/j.celrep.2013.06.038

Picture: Células madre neurales en división. Crédito: Murielle Saade