Tagging produces detailed catalog of transcription factors key to making each cell type — ScienceDaily

A team of biomedical engineers at Duke University has created a new way to turn stem cells into a desired cell type by mastering the language of gene regulatory networks.

Programming stem cells into other cell types is not a new idea. Several methods already exist, but the results have left something to be desired. Often, programmed stem cells do not mature correctly when cultured in the lab, so researchers seeking adult neuron cells for an experiment might end up with embryonic neurons, which won’t be able to model late-onset psychiatric and neurodegenerative conditions.

“The cells might seem right at first glance,” said Josh Black, the Duke Ph.D. student who led the work in Charles Gersbach’s lab, “but they are often missing some of the key properties you want in those cells.”

Using CRISP gene editing, the lab led by Gersbach, The Rooney Family Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and

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Circular RNA regulates neuronal differentiation by scaffolding an inhibitory transcription complex — ScienceDaily

In a screening for a functional impact to the neuronal differentiation process, Danish researchers identified a specific circular RNA, circZNF827, which surprisingly “taps the brake” on neurogenesis. The results provide an interesting example of co-evolution of a circRNA, and its host-encoded protein product, that regulate each other’s function, to directly impact the fundamental process of neurogenesis.

Correct timing and delicate control of neuronal differentiation is essential for development of a functional nervous system. These events establish a fine-tuned balance between the ability of stem cells to grow/divide and the neuronal progenitors to eventually exit the cell cycle and emerge as mature neurons. A variety of genes become up- or downregulated upon differentiation, giving rise to both neuron-specific proteins and ribonucleic acids (RNAs), including circular RNAs (circRNAs). This class of circRNAs has until recently escaped conventional detection, although these molecules are highly expressed in the mammalian brain. However, the functional roles

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