Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The beginnings of the brain

16.05.2011
A single protein is sufficient to switch on the various genes that kick off the development of the embryonic nervous system

All of the tissues and organs of the body arise from one of three embryonic precursors: the ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm. The ectoderm contributes to several tissues, including the nervous system and the skin, but some studies have suggested that development into neurons requires nothing more than the absence of specific inhibitory signals.

This phenomenon has led biologists to formulate what is called the ‘neural default model’. “The simplest interpretation of the neural default model is that the neural fate is a ‘left-over’ choice, passively determined by the elimination of other pathways of differentiation,” explains Yoshiki Sasai of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe. This model fails to address the identities of the factors that actively drive neuronal development, but new findings from Sasai and colleagues have spotlighted a single protein that appears to set this process into motion[1].

His team had previously designed a culture system that promotes neural differentiation of mouse embryonic stem (mES) cells[2], and they used this technique to identify genes that are specifically switched on in these cells. They identified one intriguing candidate, Zfp521, which activated several other genes involved in neural development, even when the mES cells were cultured in the presence of factors that would normally curb this process (Fig. 1).

When Sasai and colleagues examined expression in developing mouse embryos, they noted that the spatial and temporal distribution of Zfp521 activity closely mirrored known sites of neural differentiation. Likewise, early stage mouse embryos injected with mES cells in which Zfp521 expression was abrogated largely failed to incorporate these cells into the developing nervous system. By systematically identifying the genes whose expression is disrupted in the absence of Zfp521, the researchers were able to determine that this gene acts as a driver for the maturation of ectodermal cells into neuroectoderm, the developmental stage that immediately precedes formation of actual neural progenitors.

“The most important message of this study is that the neural fate is acquired by an active determination process,” says Sasai. Understanding how this developmental switch works could ultimately provide scientists with a powerful tool for efficiently transforming human stem cells into mature nervous tissue suitable for experimental use or even transplantation, although it remains to be determined whether human ES cells obey the exact same principles. “We have preliminary data showing a conserved essential role for Zfp521 in both species,” says Sasai, “but we need to analyze the similarities and differences in greater depth.”

The corresponding author for this highlight is based at the Laboratory for Organogenesis and Neurogenesis, RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology

Journal information

[1] Kamiya, D., Banno, S., Sasai, N., Ohgushi, M., Inomata, H., Watanabe, K., Kawada, M., Yakura, R., Kiyonari, H., Nakao, K. et al. Intrinsic transition of embryonic stem-cell differentiation into neural progenitors. Nature 470, 503–509 (2011).

[2] Watanabe, K., Kamiya, D., Nishiyama, A., Katayama, T., Nozaki, S., Kawasaki, H., Watanabe, Y., Mizuseki, K. & Sasai, Y. Directed differentiation of telencephalic precursors from embryonic stem cells. Nature Neuroscience 8, 288–296 (2005).

gro-pr | Research asia research news
Further information:
http://www.riken.jp
http://www.researchsea.com

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The world's tiniest first responders
21.06.2018 | University of Southern California

nachricht A new toxin in Cholera bacteria discovered by scientists in Umeå
21.06.2018 | Schwedischer Forschungsrat - The Swedish Research Council

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

What are the effects of coral reef marine protected areas?

21.06.2018 | Life Sciences

The Janus head of the South Asian monsoon

21.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

The world's tiniest first responders

21.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>