Posted by Neill Abayon
Research focused on the regulation of the adult stem cells that line the gastrointestinal tract of Drosophila suggests new models for the study of Barrett's esophagus. Barrett's esophagus, a risk factor for esophageal cancer, is a condition in which the cells of the lower esophagus transform into stomach-like cells. In most cases this transformation has been thought to occur directly from chronic acid indigestion when stomach contents flow back up into the esophagus. A new study, published June 27, 2013 online in Cell Reports, suggests a different cause, namely a change in stem cell function, for this transformation.
Researchers at the Buck Institute manipulated a signaling pathway (BMP-like Dpp) implicated in the development of Barrett's esophagus. After manipulation, the adult stem cells that normally generate the lining of the esophagus of fruit flies morphed into the type of stem cells that generate stomach cells. "Up until this point, it's not been clear what this signaling pathway does in stem cells of the gastrointestinal tract, or how it influences the regeneration of various types of epithelial cells in the gut of the fly," said Heinrich Jasper, PhD, a professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and senior author of the study.
The full research is here.