Fundamental Research Division
The DRF at the CEA assemble approximately 6,000 scientists since January 2016.
Scientific result | Stem cells | Cell division
Researchers at the Institut Pasteur, the CEA-IRTSV
and the CNRS have shown that the direct environment of stem cells
influences the fate of their offspring. According to the tension exerted
on these cells types of in division, they can preferentially produce
two new stem cells, or a stem cell and a specialized cell, or even two
specialized cells. Would it be possible, by controlling the
environmental conditions, to select the cells produced for use in a
The stem cells of our body can generate specialized, “differentiated”
daughter cells to repair a damaged tissue. The Stem Cells and Development unit1
(Institut Pasteur/CNRS) is interested in the adult stem cells of muscle
in mice. These can be divided in a “symmetrical” way, resulting in either
two stem cells or two differentiated cells; they can also be divided in an
“asymmetrical” way, creating one cell of each type. In the latter case, the DNA
of the mother stem cell can end up entirely within the daughter stem cell,
whereas the other (differentiated) daughter cell inherits one copy. The DNA
segregation is therefore called “biased”. The mechanisms controlling these
phenomena however remain unknown.
The researchers studied the influence of the mechanical tension acting
upon a cell in the tissues of the body. For this, the CEA-IRTSV designed small
plates containing thousands of patterns with varied shapes, the size of one or
two cells (300 square micrometers). Each stem cell was placed on a pattern
guiding its division, with its daughter cells remaining on the “micropattern”.
Result: an asymmetrical pattern provokes four times as many asymmetric
divisions as a symmetrical pattern. It also promotes “biased” DNA
segregation. The fate of the stem cells is thus not only based on internal
signals but also on external conditions, especially the tensions perceived
This work opens up important therapeutic perspectives, suggesting the
possibility of controlling the type of cells produced for a transplant.
 directed by Shahragim Tajbakhsh
magnetic resonance microscopy at single-cell resolution in Aplysia
californica, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the
United States of America
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.