Cytoskeletal Protein "Actin" is Critical in Genome Regulation

Neuronal cells induced from mouse embryonic fibroblasts. The cells were stained with DAPI and with an antibody against the neuronal marker synapsins and imaged by confocal microscopy. Photo courtesy of Xie and Percipalle.

New NYUAD research holds potential for the development of personalized medicines

Press Release

One of the most fascinating questions in biology is how genes are regulated during development and differentiation when cells acquire a specific identity. 

A new NYU Abu Dhabi study that has been published in PLOS Genetics 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."

NYU Abu Dhabi Associate Professor of Biology Piergiorgio Percipalle

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from over 115 countries and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.