Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Neural stem cell gene plays crucial role in eye development

17.05.2006
Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have demonstrated that normal development of the eye requires the right amount of a neural stem cell gene be expressed at the right time and place.

Neural stem cells are cells that can differentiate into different cell types in the nervous system. In the developing eye, retinal neural stem cells differentiate to form the neurons of the adult eye and form the optic nerve.

Led by Dr. Larysa H. Pevny, an assistant professor of genetics in the UNC School of Medicine, researchers discovered that expression levels of a particular neural stem cell gene, SOX2, are a critical factor that regulates the differentiation of neural stem/progenitor cells in the eye.

Their work appears in the current edition of the journal Genes & Development.

The SOX2 gene is a member of class of master genes that encode for transcription factors. Transcription factors are proteins that bind to DNA and regulate the expression of other genes

The investigators discovered that, in mice, disruption of the SOX2 gene in neural retinal stem cells leads to a kind of abnormal development of the eye called microphtalmia, or small eye. Approximately 10 percent of all human cases of microphtalmia result from mutations in the SOX2 gene.

Moreover, this study indicates that the degree to which SOX2 gene is disrupted dictates the severity of this condition.

"We found that even a reduction in normal SOX2 levels causes problems in these mice and this mimics the problems seen in humans," said Pevny.

The scientist pointed out that the problem in eye development in these mice results from loss of SOX2 mediated maintenance of the neural progenitor cell population in the eye.

According to Pevny, the study demonstrates that normal development of the eye is contingent upon having the right amount of SOX2, expressed at the right time and place. "Too little SOX2 expression results in the neural stem cell pool to aberrantly differentiate into neurons during development," Pevny said. "This disrupts the normal maintenance of the stem cell pool in the eye and disrupts the whole developmental process."

A complete loss of SOX2 expression in neural retinal progenitor cells results in the loss of the ability to either differentiate into neurons, or stay in the pluripotent state. In the pluripotent state, the cells are constantly replenished, but each cell retains the ability to differentiate into different cell types. This loss results in a block in eye formation in mice.

The manuscript also describes that one of the genes that SOX2 controls is Notch1, and loss of regulation of this gene is what is partially responsible for abnormal development of the eye. Notch1 is expressed in several other stem cell/progenitor populations. Therefore, SOX2 may play an important role in maintaining these populations as well.

In addition to highlighting a role for SOX2 in normal eye development, Pevny also stressed that this study illustrates the power of mouse genetics. "Right now, we are only in the hypothetical stage of therapeutic application of this work, but we finally have the genetic tools to actually test our hypothesis."

Other authors that contributed to the study are members of the UNC Neuroscience Center and department of genetics: Dr. Olena Taranova, a former UNC graduate student in neurobiology, now a postdoctoral scientist in the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center; Dr. Scott T. Magness, a postdoctoral scientist; B. Matthew Fagan, research technician; Dr.Yongquin Wu, director of the In Situ Hybridization Core Facility at the UNC Neuroscience Center; and Scott R. Hutton and Natalie Surzenko, graduate research assistants in the UNC Neurobiology Curriculum.

This work is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Christopher Reeves Paralysis Foundation

Leslie H. Lang | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.med.unc.edu

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>