Caen cedex, France -
The identification of molecular signals associated with cellular differentiation is important from a drug development perspective. Recently, a paper was published describing mechanisms of mesenchymal stem cell differentiation to neural cells (Pacary et al. Crosstalk between HIF-1 and ROCK pathways in neuronal differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells, neurospheres and in PC12 neurite outgrowth. Mol Cell Neurosci. 2007 Apr 10).
The authors identified that cobalt chloride (CoCl(2)) and deferoxamine, both activators of HIF-1 induce mesenchymal stem cell to neural differentiation, and that this effect is augmented by addition of Y-27632, a Rho-kinase (ROCK) inhibitor.
The essential involvement of HIF-1 in the differentiation from mesenchymal stem cells to neural cells was demonstrated by the fact that addition of HIF-1 inhibitors blocked differentiation induced by cobalt chloride with or without Y27632.
These data suggest that the HIF-1 and ROCK pathway should be investigated as targets in the development of drugs that can modify differentiation programs.