To investigate, Yang and his lab went to a deer farm in California, where they collected samples of early antler tissue, mainly skeletal stem cells. Antlers grow from top to bottom; As they grow upward, a reservoir of stem cells remains at the top of the antlers and continues to multiply. Antler is soft in the early stages of development, similar to the cartilage of your nose, which makes cell sampling easy for yang and harmless to the buck. Only in the second stage of development does the antler mineralize and become rigid.
In the lab, scientists used various techniques to decode the genetics behind the antler growth, including the analysis of RNA, a molecule that specifically helps in performing gene guidance and gene knockdown and overexpression studies using the Hamper or accelerate gene function. Comparative RNA analyzes between stem cells in antler and human stem cells from bone marrow led Yang to a collection of genes that appeared to have unique expression in antlers. From this pool, he restricted the search by manipulating gene function and observing how different gene expression levels affected tissue growth in mouse cells. [Yang] In mouse cells, Yang saw that the bone tissue appeared to be decaying when the uhrf1
"The antler generation is a unique phenomenon worth studying for curiosity. But lo and behold, it can have some really interesting applications for human health, "said Yang.
The Antlers of Genes Apply to Humans
The researchers hope their findings on antler genes can provide new approaches to the treatment of diseases such as osteoporosis. In healthy bones, two types of cells – osteoblasts and osteoclasts – act as opposing forces. Osteoblasts produce new bone tissue, while osteoclasts break down old bone. The two cell types work in a yin and yang style to continuously shape and break down bones to maintain a balanced bone structure. In osteoporosis, the osteoclast function overtakes the osteoblasts and the bone breaks.
"We are just beginning this research, but our ultimate goal is to figure out how to apply the same underlying biology that allows rapid bone regeneration in antlers to treat human bone conditions such as osteoporosis," Yang said.
Yang plans to explore several species of deer to confirm that uhrf1 and s100a10 support rapid antler growth between species. In addition, he plans to test the functioning of genes in human cell lines and to analyze how ufh1 and s100a10 function at the molecular level while investigating possible functional pathways.
"There is much to do, but this could be a unique model of bone regeneration, and our first work here has begun to provide a foundation for future studies," Yang said.
Other Stanford co-authors of the Newspapers include postdoctoral researchers Dan Wang, PhD and Bin Zhang, PhD, Norma Neff, PhD, former director of DNA sequencing, former scientist Rashmi Sharma, William Maloney, MD, Boswell Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Chairman, and Professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics Stephen Quake, PhD.
Peter Yang is a member of Stanford Bio-X, the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute, Stanford ChEM-H, the Stanford Child Health Research Institute . and the Stanford Neurosciences Institute .
Also scientists from the Tenth People's Hospital of Tongji University, Calico Life Sciences and the State Key Lab for Molecular Bio Special Economic Animal Studies Contributed to the Study
The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health (Scholarships R01AR057837, R01AR057837, R01DE021468, and S10RR027431) from the Department of Defense, the Boswell Foundation, and the AO Foundation.
Stanford's Department of Orthopedic Surgery also supported the work.