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STAP technique: A unique cellular reprogramming phenomenon

Dec 23, 2014 18:34 IST

Stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) technique is a unique cellular reprogramming phenomenon. The STAP technique was in news as stem cell scientist of Japan Haruko Obokata, who is at the heart of stem cell scandal, resigned from Riken Research Institute, Japan on 19 December 2014.

Stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) requires neither nuclear transfer nor the introduction of transcription factors. Rather in this, committed somatic cells give rise to STAP cells by reprogramming rather than selection.

STAP cells are produced from purified lymphocytes and as well as gene rearrangement analysis.  

It is an alleged method of generating pluripotent stem cells by subjecting ordinary cells to certain types of stress, such as the application of a bacterial toxin, submersion in a weak acid, or physical squeezing.

In this technique, strong external stimuli such as a transient low-pH stressor reprogrammed mammalian somatic cells is given resulting in the generation of pluripotent cells.

Research on STAPs cells has shown a substantial decrease in DNA methylation in the regulatory regions of pluripotency marker genes. Blastocyst injection showed that STAP cells efficiently contribute to chimaeric embryos and to offspring via germline transmission.

The studies on STAP cells also show that robustly expandable pluripotent cell lines from STAP cells can also be derived. This means that epigenetic fate determination of mammalian cells can be markedly converted in a context-dependent manner by strong environmental cues.

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