Image of the Day: Cooking Up Neurons

Using different combinations of transcription factors, researchers create a diverse array of neurons from mouse skin cells.

By The Scientist Staff | May 11, 2018

Mouse neurons generated from a novel transcription-factor pair Neurog2/Brn2BALDWIN LAB/THE SCRIPPS RESEARCH INSTITUTE

On Wednesday (May 9), researchers reported in Nature that they created a “neuronal cookbook” of 76 transcriptional codes from which they can create different kinds of neurons from mouse fibroblast cells. The cells can mimic the characteristics of brain cells affected by neurological diseases, which may lead to screening for potential drugs to treat the disorders.

“The brain is incredibly complex, with thousands of different types of cells that are each involved in different diseases,” says study coauthor Kristin Baldwin, a neuroscientist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, in a statement. “The problem with understanding and treating the many disorders of the brain is that we cannot reproducibly produce the right types of brain cells. Now we have found more than 75 new ways to rapidly and reproducibly turn skin cells into neurons that we think will be much better representatives of different neurologic diseases than were previously available.”

R. Tsunemoto et al., “Diverse reprogramming codes for neuronal identity,” Nature, doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0103-5, 2018.

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