Dr. Louise Laurent discusses DNA methylation patterning in the pluripotent state. This short take was shot during a break at Keystone Symposia’s meeting on Environmental Epigenomics and Disease Susceptibility held in March 2011 in Asheville, North Carolina.
This video was made possible by epigenetics supporters at Zymo Research.
DNA Methylation in Stem Cell Pluripotency
So I work on pluripotent stem cells, and my work focuses on the pluripotent state itself, and the early stages of linage commitment. Based on the history of the field epigenetics, there’s a very natural connection between epigenetics and my work. So basically our whole goal is to understand pluripotency and differentiation, and so we really have to look at epigenetics for that.
What we’re doing is we’re actually focusing on DNA methylation at the moment, and we’re looking at the differences between pluripotent and non-pluripotent cells, as well as the variations in DNA methylation within the pluripotent state itself.
One of the promising potential applications of pluripotent stem cells is in cell therapy, and we feel that it’s very important to understand the cells well themselves before we do large scale studies in humans. So one of the big questions we want to answer is how stable are the cells in the pluripotent state.
The current studies focus on, as I mentioned, looking at the DNA methylation patterns within the group of pluripotent stem cells. We are finding that there are prevalent variations among different pluripotent lines, and our next avenue of research is to understand how those variations actually impact the phenotype of the cells – the potential safety of the cells, and the potential efficacy of the cells for clinical use.