New research out of the Lillehei Heart Institute at the University of Minnesota shows that by turning on just a single gene, Mesp1, different cell types including the heart, blood and muscle can be created from stem cells. The study was published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

“Previous research indicated that this gene was the “master regulator” for development of the heart, and that its activity prevented the differentiation of other cell types,” said Michael Kyba, Ph.D., associate professor in the University of Minnesota Medical School Department of Pediatrics and a Lillehei endowed scholar. “Our work reveals that this gene acts differently, and that it plays a role in the development of blood and skeletal muscle as well.  The outcome depends on the chemical signals that cells expressing this factor sense in their environment.”

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