(big image) Stem cells are unique in their ability to keep dividing to produce new daughter cells that can turn into any cell type in the body—a quality called pluripotency. Stem cells renew our skin as well as the lining of our gut. In order to manage this constant renewal, stem cells must be able to maintain their telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes that determine how many times a cell can divide. To better understand telomere maintenance, Jan Karlseder’s lab reverted skin cells into stem cells and looked at what length of telomeres was ideal for pluripotency by staining for proteins called TRA-1-60 and Nanog, which are expressed in all embryonic stem cells and their derivative cells (like stem cells induced from skin) but not in non-pluripotent cells. pluripotency: the ability to differentiate into any cell type Image credit: Teresa Rivera Garcia
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