Stem Cell Metabolomics
Are intracellular metabolites limiting for stem cell function and cancer initiation in an organism? This simple question has not been answered because metabolite levels are difficult to measure in purified populations of rare cells in vivo. We developed tools that allow routine metabolomics analysis of rare cells from tissues, including stem cells. We used these tools to show that cell differentiation in the hematopoietic system is accompanied by metabolic differentiation, even for lineally related cells that reside in a similar environment. Almost all metabolites we could detect show cell type-specific patterns of enrichment, and conversely all cell types we analyzed have distinct metabolic signatures. We do not know the reason for almost any of the metabolite patterns we identified, and we are currently investigating some of them in hematopoietic stem cells and other cell types.