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.