The long-standing assumption that stem cell fate is not predetermined has been brought into question with a new paper published last week in Stem Cell Reports.
Titled “Computational Image Analysis Reveals Intrinsic Multigenerational Differences between Anterior and Posterior Cerebral Cortex Neural Progenitor Cells”, the manuscript describes the use of open-source software to write algorithms to analyze large numbers of images collected by time-lapse microscopy of development fates of mouse cerebral cortex neural progenitor cells. The data presented in the paper is a combination of computational analysis and real-life experimental data.
Led by professor Andrew Cohen at Drexel University in collaboration with Dr. Sally Temple, Scientific Director at the Neural Stem Cell Institute, the authors found that neural progenitor cells derived from the anterior cortex were shown to divide more slowly and ended up producing smaller clones, while progenitor cells derived from the posterior cortex divided quicker and produced larger clones.
In essence, this meant that stem cells derived from different sources followed correspondingly different developmental paths. In the context of neural stem cell development, this result demonstrated that neural cells do not develop into random structures, as both types of cells were given the same cell culture environments during analysis. Rather, there is some predetermined fate that these cells appeared to follow that was related to their source.
The programs used in this work to track and analyze cell division were developed in Dr. Cohen’s lab at the College of Engineering at Drexel University, and provided an unprecendented view into stem cell fate.
The manuscript can be accessed here.