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New role for B-complex vitamins

Wednesday, July 13, 2016 - 10:34am

A primary U.S. grain supplement has a dual role, according to a new study published by UGA and Tufts University researchers:

Folates, whether supplemental B vitamins or natural folates found in food, are essential for the proper functioning of all cells in the body and are critical to prevent birth defects.

The study, published July 11 in Developmental Cell, shows for the first time that an adult stem cell population is controlled by an external factor arising from outside the animal-bacterial folate. In this case, that animal was a small roundworm model organism known as Caenorhabditis elegans.

"Our study shows that germ stem cells in Caenorhabditis elegans are stimulated to divide by a specific folate that comes from their bacterial diet," said the study's co-senior author Edward Kipreos, a professor in UGA's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. "Folates are essential B-group vitamins. However, we show that the ability of a specific folate to stimulate germ cells is independent of its role as a vitamin, implying that it acts directly as a signaling molecule."

Great collaborative new study from our scientists in cellular biology. Not only does this work uncover the signalling mechanism described in the paper, but the published findings also describe a new tool the researchers created that allows C. elegans germ cells to be cultured in vitro. Terrific work all around.

Image of B-complex sources photo via.

 

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