WASHINGTON - A team of U.S. scientists has identified phosphorylated signalling proteins in human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) studying which may help understand the mechanisms that determine whether stem cells divide or differentiate, what types of cells they become, and how to control those complex mechanisms to facilitate development of new therapies.

Researchers a the Burnham Institute for Medical Research (Burnham) and The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) say that protein phosphorylation, the biochemical process that modifies protein activities by adding a phosphate molecule, is central to cell signalling.

Writing about their study in the journal Cell Stem Cell, the researchers said that they used sophisticated phosphoproteomic analyses to catalogued 2,546 phosphorylation sites on 1,602 phosphoproteins.

They say that before their study, protein phosphorylation in hESCs was poorly understood.

According to them, identification of these phosphorylation sites provides insights into known and novel hESC signalling pathways and highlights signalling mechanisms that influence self-renewal and differentiation.

“This research will be a big boost for stem cell scientists. The protein phosphorylation sites identified in this study are freely available to the broader research community, and researchers can use these data to study the cells in greater depth and determine how phosphorylation events determine a cell’s fate,” said Dr. Laurence M. Brill, senior scientist at Burnham’s Proteomics Facility.

With this knowledge, according to the team, stem cell researchers may be able to develop more focused methods to control hESC differentiation and move closer to clinical therapies. (ANI)