In an unexpected twist, a new study casts a classical protein in a surprising new role: Pax6, a well-recognized factor in brain and eye development in mice, appears to play a very different and crucial part in the development of the human brain.
Mature neurons (red) and glial cells
(green) derived from hESCs

Image courtesy of Su-Chun Zhang
The research, reported this week in linkurl:Cell Stem Cell,; provides "exciting new insights into the fundamental process of neural induction," said linkurl:Kate Storey,; a developmental biologist at the University of Dundee in the UK who was not involved in the research, in an email. Pax6 is one in a family of paired box (Pax6) transcription factors that control embryonic development in a variety of cell lineages. The best-studied of the Pax factors, Pax6 is highly conserved and important to the development of eyes, pancreas, and cerebrum across many species. Now,...
A cluster of neural cells derived from hESCs
Image courtesy of Su-Chun Zhang
Oct4Nanog,X. Zhang et al. "Pax6 is a human neuroectoderm cell fate determinant," Cell Stem Cell, 7: 90-100. 2010.

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