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New NYUAD research suggests that “Actin” - a cytoskeletal protein - is critical in genome regulation during the formation of nerve cells

Wednesday, January 2, 2019/ Editor -  

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Research holds potential for the development of personalized medicines
 
Fast facts
  • One of the most fascinating questions in biology is how genes are regulated during development and differentiation when cells acquire a specific identity
  • This research suggests for the first time that Actin is critical in regulating the genome during “neurogenesis” – a process that involves the formation of “neurons” or nerve cells
  • Actin is a cytoskeletal protein found in the cell
  • The methodology that was adopted in this study now allows researchers to model neurogenesis, and in the long term, provides a new perspective to understand disease at the molecular level
  • The study has been published in PLOS Genetics
January 2, 2019, Abu Dhabi:   A new NYU Abu Dhabi study suggests for the first time that Actin, which is a cytoskeleton protein found in the cell, is critical to regulating the genome - the genetic material of an organism – during the formation of “neurons” or nerve cells. 
 
Led by NYU Abu Dhabi Associate Professor of Biology Piergiorgio Percipalle, along with other researchers, this study involved converting “fibroblasts” - cells that maintain connective tissues – with impaired actin expression into neurons in order to identify the role of Actin in neurogenesis. The implication of the methodology together with the availability of fibroblasts not expressing actin is far reaching. It will enable researchers to understand novel concepts in genome regulation and, in the long term, model diseases to identify druggable targets. 
 
“The technology we’ve applied in my lab has given us the opportunity to identify novel factors and pathways involved in the regulation of the mammalian genome during neurogenesis – the formation of neurons -  and has a lot of potential for the development of personalized medicines,” says Percipalle, the study’s lead researcher. 

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