Scientists find neural stem cell regulator

April 16, 2012

Researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine have found that lack of a specific gene interrupts neural tube closure, a condition that can cause death or paralysis.

"The neural tube is the beginning of the brain and ," said the study's lead investigator Lee Niswander, Ph.D., professor of at the CU School of Medicine. "A defect in the mLin41 gene doesn't allow the tube to close because not enough are being made. The study was the cover story this week in the journal Genes & Development.

Niswander and the paper's first author, Jianfu Chen, Ph.D., made their findings while studying neural stem cells in mice. They said the cells use distinct self-renewal programs to meet the demand of tissue growth and repair during different stages of embryonic development. The molecular mechanisms that control these programs remain largely unknown.

The researchers discovered that the gene mLin41 in mice controls the extent of neural stem cell proliferation during the process of neural closure but not at the later stage of brain development.

According to Chen, mLin41 works with small RNAs and RNA regulators that have never been investigated before in connection with neural tube formation.

Niswander, who is also an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute based in Washington, D.C., said the findings shed new light on neural tube development.

"Our work opens up a whole other pathway toward understanding neural tube defects," she said. "It's a new and significant piece of the puzzle behind understanding how this happens."

Explore further: Mouse experiments show fickle functions for folic acid

Related Stories

Mouse experiments show fickle functions for folic acid

October 6, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Dietary folic acid helps prevent a subset of neurological birth defects in humans -- although the precise mechanism by which it prevents them is unclear. Now, researchers have found that certain genetic ...

Recommended for you

How our cells use mother's and father's genes

September 28, 2016

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research have characterized how and to what degree our cells utilize the gene copies inherited from our mother and father differently. At a basic level ...

Regulatory RNA essential to DNA damage response

September 26, 2016

Stanford researchers have found that a tumor suppressor known as p53 is stabilized by a regulatory RNA molecule called DINO. The interaction helps a cell respond to DNA damage and may play a role in cancer development and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.