A gene that helps regulate pluripotency in embryonic stem cells, octamer-binding transcription factor 4 (Oct4), is thought to be permanently silenced in adult somatic cells, but new research shows that it may play an important role in preventing the development of atherosclerotic plaques (Cherepanova OA et al. Nat Med. doi:10.1038/nm.4109 [published online May 16, 2016]).
When investigators at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and their colleagues silenced the gene in smooth muscle cells in a mouse model of atherosclerosis, the animals exhibited increased atherosclerotic lesion size and changes in lesion composition indicative of decreased plaque stability.
Hampton T. Stem Cell Gene May Help Prevent Atherosclerosis. JAMA. 2016;316(1):23. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.7941