From Northwestern: ” Mitochondria Behind Blood Cell Formation”

Northwestern U bloc
Northwestern University

Jun 12, 2017
Nora Dunne

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Mitochondria are tiny, free-floating organelles inside cells. New Northwestern Medicine research has discovered that they play an important role in hematopoiesis, the body’s process for creating new blood cells. No image credit

New Northwestern Medicine research published in Nature Cell Biology has shown that mitochondria, traditionally known for their role creating energy in cells, also play an important role in hematopoiesis, the body’s process for creating new blood cells.

“Historically, mitochondria are viewed as ATP — energy — producing organelles,” explained principal investigator Navdeep Chandel, PhD, the David W. Cugell Professor of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. “Previously, my laboratory provided evidence that mitochondria can dictate cell function or fate independent of ATP production. We established the idea that mitochondria are signaling organelles.”

In the current study, Chandel’s team, including post-doctoral fellow Elena Ansó, PhD, and graduate students Sam Weinberg and Lauren Diebold, demonstrated that mitochondria control hematopoietic stem cell fate by preventing the generation of a metabolite called 2-hydroxyglutarate (2HG). The scientists showed that mice with stem cells deficient in mitochondrial function cannot generate blood cells due to elevated levels of 2HG, which causes histone and DNA hyper-methylation.

“This is a great example of two laboratories complementing their expertise to work on a project,” said Chandel, also a professor of Cell and Molecular Biology and a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

Paul Schumacker, PhD, professor of Pediatrics, Cell and Molecular Biology and Medicine, was also a co-author on the paper.

Chandel co-authored an accompanying paper in Nature Cell Biology, led by Jian Xu, PhD, at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, which demonstrated that initiation of erythropoiesis, the production of red blood cells specifically, requires functional mitochondria.

“These two studies collectively support the idea that metabolism dictates stem cell fate, which is a rapidly evolving subject matter,” said Chandel, who recently wrote a review in Nature Cell Biology highlighting this idea. “An important implication of this work is that diseases linked to mitochondrial dysfunction like neurodegeneration or normal aging process might be due to elevation in metabolites like 2HG.”

This research was supported by National Institutes of Health grants R35CA197532, T32 GM008061, T32 T32HL076139, K01DK093543 and R01DK111430, and Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas New Investigator award RR140025.

See the full article here .

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On May 31, 1850, nine men gathered to begin planning a university that would serve the Northwest Territory.

Given that they had little money, no land and limited higher education experience, their vision was ambitious. But through a combination of creative financing, shrewd politicking, religious inspiration and an abundance of hard work, the founders of Northwestern University were able to make that dream a reality.

In 1853, the founders purchased a 379-acre tract of land on the shore of Lake Michigan 12 miles north of Chicago. They established a campus and developed the land near it, naming the surrounding town Evanston in honor of one of the University’s founders, John Evans. After completing its first building in 1855, Northwestern began classes that fall with two faculty members and 10 students.
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