Research Highlight

Fruit fly study reveals how stem cells form blood cells

doi:10.1038/nindia.2016.155 Published online 24 November 2016

Biologists have shed light on how stem cells grow, mature and differentiate into blood cells in the lymph gland and other organs of fruit fly larvae1.

Besides elucidating the early-stage expansion of the stem cells, this study could provide leads for developing cures for embryonic stem-cell-related blood disorders.  

Scientists are yet to pinpoint the exact mechanisms of early expansion of blood-forming stem cells, and the process is difficult to study in humans. 

Scientists from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Mohali tracked how the expression of marker genes and related proteins drove the early expansion of blood-forming stem cells in the lymph gland and other organs of fruit fly larvae. They identified the activities of stem-cell-specific marker genes such as Notch, STAT and proteins such as bone morphogenetic protein (BMP). 

Notch functions as an early signal for the stem cell development in vertebrates; whereas STAT helps expand the stem cells. BMP is essential for the maintenance of blood-generating stem cells in vertebrates.   

“This research will help in designing strategies to harvest large amount of stem cells, which could potentially be used for tissue engineering to treat stem-cell-related blood disorders,” says principal scientist Lolitika Mandal from IISER, Mohali.


1. Dey, N. S. et al. Dpp dependent hematopoietic stem cells give rise to Hh dependent blood progenitors in larval lymph gland of DrosophilaeLife (2016) Doi: 10.7554/eLife.18295