Repression of mouse mammary progenitor cells

In the December 15, 2007 issue of Genes & Development, one of 12 “Research Papers” and both of two “Research Communications” are labelled “Open Access Article”. One of the latter articles is: A role for microRNAs in maintenance of mouse mammary epithelial progenitor cells, by Ingrid Ibarra, Yaniv Erlich, Senthil K. Muthuswamy, Ravi Sachidanandam, and Gregory J. Hannon, Genes Dev 2007(Dec 15); 21(24): 3238-3243. The Abstract:

microRNA (miRNA) expression profiles are often characteristic of specific cell types. The mouse mammary epithelial cell line, Comma-Dβ, contains a population of self-renewing progenitor cells that can reconstitute the mammary gland. We purified this population and determined its miRNA signature. Several microRNAs, including miR-205 and miR-22, are highly expressed in mammary progenitor cells, while others, including let-7 and miR-93, are depleted. Let-7 sensors can be used to prospectively enrich self-renewing populations, and enforced let-7 expression induces loss of self-renewing cells from mixed cultures.

The final paragraph of the Results and Discussion section:

Overall, our results support the notion that miRNA expression patterns form both a characteristic signature of a given cell type and help to reinforce cell fate specification. Even within a single cell line, distinct compartments containing progenitor cells and more differentiated cells have unique miRNA patterns, suggesting that such signatures can be used not only to define and track rare cell populations in vitro and in vivo, but that manipulation of these signatures might be used to expand or deplete stem cell and tumor-initiating cell populations for therapeutic benefit.

For a commentary about this article, see: Scientists identify and repress breast cancer stem cells in mouse tissue, Medical Science News, December 19, 2007. Excerpt:

By manipulating highly specific gene-regulating molecules called microRNAs, scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) report that they have succeeded in singling out and repressing stem-like cells in mouse breast tissue – cells that are widely thought to give rise to cancer.

Added December 26, 2007:

Genes & Development is one of the journals published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. It’s a high-quality journal in its field, “ranked number 1 in terms of cost-effectiveness in the field of Developmental Biology“, according to a statement attributed to

The journal has an Open Access Option:

All papers are freely available online six months after publication. In addition, Genes & Development is now offering an Open Access option in which authors may pay a surcharge of $2000 to make their paper freely available online immediately upon publication. Authors may choose this option when page proofs are returned to Journals Production; choosing this option will have no effect on acceptance and publication of submitted papers.

As of the end of 2007, all papers published after June 15 are freely available online. The 12 issues between July 1 and December 15 can be accessed via the Archive of 2007 Online Issues. These 12 issues contained a total of 155 contributions (other than “Errata”). Of these contributions, only 13 (8%) were freely available online immediately upon publication. The Open Access Option was utilized more often for “Perspectives”, “Reviews” and “Research Communications” (7/50=14%) than for “Research Papers” (6/105=6%).

Ten of the 13 freely available papers can also be accessed via the page of Articles With Immediate Access in the appropriate section of PubMed Central. Among these ten is the very interesting article highlighted above, entitled: A role for microRNAs in maintenance of mouse mammary epithelial progenitor cells.

This particular case study has revealed that the Open Access Option has been adopted by only a small minority of authors during the last half of 2007, so a six-month delay before free availability has not been a deterrent for most of the authors whose papers were accepted for publication in these issues of this journal. So, this case study highlights the crucial importance of the duration of the delay period, prior to free availability, for journals such as this one.

This six-month delay period is already shorter than the one-year delay permitted by the recently-imposed OA mandate at NIH. See: OA mandate at NIH now law, posted by Peter Suber to Open Access News on December 26, 2007.

I was unable to find a policy about Green OA (via self-archiving) for the journal Genes & Development.


1 Comment »

  1. tillje said

    For another relevant article about miRNA and cancer, see: let-7 regulates self-renewal and tumorigenicity of breast cancer cells, by Fengyan Yu and 10 co-authors, Cell 2007(Dec 14);131(6): 1109-23. At this time, only the abstract is freely accessible.

    An example of a commentary about this article: Cancer Stem Cells Regulated By MicroRNA, Pat McCaffrey, Medical News Today, December 14, 2007.

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