The growth of the brain is the outcome of a huge number of genes orchestrating the differentiation of stem cells into different types of brain cell. Now, a new research explains that the gene NeuroD1 is not only expressed in brain stem cells but additionally functions as the master regulator of this complex process.
Researchers presented their results in the EMBO Journal and explain how they discovered the intricate mechanism via which NeuroD1 drives the development of brain cells.
They consider their results will not only enhance understanding of how the brain grows and types new cells, but they could also assist develop regenerative therapies for Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative problems.
In neurodegenerative illnesses like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, brain function decreases due to loss of cells that aren’t capable to replace on their own, so the destruction is long lasting.
The goal of regenerative treatment is to renew lost cells – for instance, by duplicating how the body generates new cells while in development.
But the brain is a complicated organ, and we do not know a lot about its growth at the molecular level.
The investigators at Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) have understood the function that NeuroD1 performs in brain growth. They had previously founded that the gene is active at the very beginning of the brain development procedure.
Master gene develops ‘epigenetic memory’ in cells
In the new research, the scientists identified that NeuroD1 functions like a master switch that starts the brain growth process.
They identified that NeuroD1 manages other genes by changing their “epigenetic” state – without changing their actual DNA, it leaves markers on the genes that display whether they are switched on or off and that impact how they are read.
On the other hand, another essential function they identified is that NeuroD1 is constantly influence this procedure even when it switches off. The epigenetic markers it leaves on the other genes are long lasting.
It is as though NeuroD1 produces an “epigenetic memory” in the cell of how it must distinguish as brain growth unfolds.
Authors of the study Abhijeet Pataskar and Johannes Jung describe:
“Our study has proven how a single factor, NeuroD1, has the potential to modify the epigenetic landscape of the cell, resulting in a gene expression program that guides the generation of neurons.”
Dr. Tiwari states that the research is interesting simply because it does much to explain what links DNA sequence, epigenetic modifications and cell fate. Also, he concludes:
“It not only sheds new light on the development of the brain while in embryonic growth but also reveals novel methods for regenerative therapy.”