Scientists at University College London have discovered how two proteins called BERT and ERNI interact in embryos to control when different organ systems in the body start to form, deepening our understanding of the development of the brain and nervous system and expanding our knowledge of stem cell behavior.
The new research published this week in PLoS Biology solves the puzzle of how vertebrates prioritize the order in which they begin to develop different sets of structures. During development, only a few signals instruct cells to form thousands of cell types, so the timing of how cells interpret these signals is critical.
An international research team led by Professor Claudio Stern of the UCL Department of Anatomy & Developmental Biology has shown that the first stage of development of the brain and nervous system is, paradoxically, a block on its progression.
The scientists describe a sequence of reactions that take place when vertebrate embryos are only a few hours old that together act as a timing mechanism, temporarily preventing the development of neural cells (cells that go on to form the brain and nervous system). This gives a head start to other cells in the embryo that will go on to create the body’s internal organs and skin, and prevents the nervous system from developing prematurely.
Dr. Costis Papanayotou of the Stern laboratory discovered a new protein, BERT, which then binds with the protein ERNI (also discovered by Professor Stern’s team) and other proteins to unblock a gene called Sox2, which gives the green light to cells to start forming the brain and nervous system.
Professor Stern said, “Scientists have been looking for a long time for the switches that determine when cells in the embryo take on specific roles. Our work shows that the proteins BERT and ERNI have an antagonistic relationship: BERT is stronger and overrides ERNI’s suppression of the Sox2 gene, which has a crucial function in setting up the nervous system. As the Sox2 gene is also needed for stem cells to retain their ability to take on a variety of roles in the body and to renew themselves, this research also advances our knowledge of stem cell behavior in adults, which could have implications for this growing area of medical research.”
Citation: Papanayotou C, Mey A, Birot AM, Saka Y, Boast S, et al. (2008) A mechanism regulating the onset of Sox2 expression in the embryonic neural plate. PLoS Biol 6(1): e2.doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060002
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Nibiru Internet Hoax "Blood Moon" Video - Kudos To Independent For Straight Debunking Article :).
- Your Microbiome Did Not Cause Your Weight Problem
- A Great Blitz Game
- On Sexuality, You Weren't Born That Way, Says Paper
- Anomaly!: Book News And A Clip
- Beekeeping Fad And The Stress Of Traveling Is Harmful To Bees
- Petition: Let's End Dramatized Reporting Of "Doomsday" Stories - The Vulnerable Get Suicidal
- "Dear Robert, RE: EARTHS TWIN SUN You may wish to confer with Paul Cox Astronomer of Sloo Observatory..."
- "Michael, I don't know, if anyone here has another idea do say :). But I'd guess perhaps a lens..."
- "To Robert Walker http://poleshift.ning.com/profiles/blogs/nibiru-daily-on-webcam?xg_source=activity..."
- "As someone with GAD, Depression and OCD, it's difficult to go about my days without worrying about..."
- "Well, you know. I saw a comment on these 'preppers'/doomsday fanatics' video and there was a comment..."
- Latest IARC Report Connects Fatness with More Cancers
- Fact Checking Mylan Claims They Raised The EpiPen Price Because of Improvements
- I’ve Had More Exposure To Agent Orange Than Anyone: Here’s What I Know
- Brussels – a Final Destination for Medical Care
- Organic Farms Yield 20% Fewer Crops than Conventional Farms
- Funding Scientific Research In A Scientific Way
- Mapping pluripotency differences between mice, monkeys, and humans
- Smokers with newly discovered genetic markers have higher lung cancer risk
- Key substance for treatment of visceral leishmaniasis identified
- High-tech alternative to brain surgery proves effective for most common movement disorder
- Fateful evolution: New study improves accuracy of cancer diagnosis