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Gamma Interferon Prompts Stem Cell Response To Fight Infection

Posted Jun 11 2010 2:25pm

Most of the time, the body’s blood-forming (hematopoietic) stem cells remain dormant, with just a few producing blood cells and maintaining a balance among the different types.

However, invading bacteria can be a call-to-arms, awaking the sleeping stem cells and prompting them to produce immune system cells that fight the foreign organisms. The “bugler” that awakes the stem cells in this battle is gamma interferon, a front-line protein defender against bacterial infection, said researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in a report that appears in the current issue of the journal Nature.

“We are looking at the normal function of stem cells,” said Dr. Margaret Goodell, professor of molecular and human genetics at BCM and director of the Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine (STaR) Center. She is the report’s senior author. “One of those is to respond to an infection.”

Goodell and her colleagues knew that cells farther along in the differentiation process responded to infection, increasing the production of immune cells.

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