November 10, 2011 ─ (BRONX, NY) ─ Researchers at then (http://www.einstein.yu.edu/home/default.asp) Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have uncovered a mechanism that governs how cells become specialized during development. Their findings could have implications for human health and disease and appear in the November 10 online edition of the journal Cell.
A fundamental question in biology is how a fertilized egg gives rise to many different cells in the body, such as nerve, blood and liver. By providing insight into that process, known as differentiation, the findings by the Einstein researchers are relevant to cancer, stem cell research and regenerative medicine.
The scientists studied cell differentiation in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. They found that cell specialization depends on a pair of proteins that act as super regulators of proteins that were already knownone super-regulating protein encouraging a cell to differentiate and the other trying to hold back the process.
The research was conducted by senior author Nicholas Baker, Ph.D., professor of genetics, of developmental and molecular biology, and of (http://www.einstein.yu.edu/departments/ophthalmology-visual-sciences/default.aspx?id=27847) ophthalmology and visual sciences at Einstein, and graduate student Abhishek Bhattacharya, the paper's lead author. They studied Helix-Loop-Helix proteins, "master-regulating" proteins that were known to play a role in the differentiation of fruit fly cells such as muscle, fat and nervous-system cells. By examining eye development in t
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Albert Einstein College of Medicine