Fruit fly stem cells are able to remodel themselves in response to kidney stones
Recent work by Carnegie’s Chenhui Wang and Allan Spradling reveals a surprising ability of kidney stem cells in fruit flies – remodeling. Their work, which could eventually guide kidney stone treatments, was published by scientific progress†
Stem cells are the raw materials from which our body is formed.
The ultimate player in use, embryonic stem cells are able to differentiate into any cell type to construct any organ or tissue in the body. The capacities of adult stem cells are not so limitless. They reside in a specific tissue, such as the skin or the intestinal wall, and are responsible for its renewal after injury, stress and environmental damage.
“The structure and function of a tissue can be maintained throughout an organism’s life by adult stem cells,” Spradling said. “Until now, we thought that was the limit of what adult stem cells could achieve.”
However, Spradling and Wang made a remarkable discovery when studying the adult stem cells found in a fruit fly tissue responsible for waste removal called the Malpighian tubule, which is analogous to the human kidney.
“We found that the kidney stem cells in the Malpighian tubule of the fruit fly actually do remodeling work — responding to an attack of kidney stones by widening the area to prevent future blockages,” explains Wang, who did this work as a postdoc at Carnegie and is now an assistant professor at Shanghai Tech University. He added: “We found that these changes are irreversible. The remodeled state is becoming the new norm for this tissue.”
In an effort to better understand this amazing stem cell ability, Spradling and Wang looked for side effects of the remodeling efforts. They showed that a makeover of the Malpighian tubule after the kidney stone was associated with increased sensitivity to salt and decreased fertility.
“Because the Malpighian tubules are one of the few fruit fly tissues that remain largely unchanged from their larval state, we think that these kidney stem cells remain in a sort of retention pattern and are only activated when the tubules are damaged by kidney stones or something else, said Spradling.
He and Wang believe that similar stem cells suitable for makeover are likely to be common in other tissues, but difficult to find, as they demonstrate their abilities only under specific conditions.
“Similar stem cells may exist in human kidneys,” Wang concluded. “Deepening our understanding of how these newly discovered ‘makeover’ stem cells work in fruit flies could one day increase our ability to treat and prevent kidney stones, which are a growing medical problem around the world.”
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Chenhui Wang et al, Drosophila renal stem cells improve fitness through delayed remodeling of adult Malpighian tubules, scientific progress (2022). DOI: 10.1126/sciaadv.abn7436
Quote: Fruit fly stem cells can remodel themselves in response to kidney stones (2022, June 16) retrieved June 16, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-06-fruit-stem-cells-remodel-response. html
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