Understanding what drives cell typing

Understanding what drives cell typing
The transcription factor GATA6 is a DNA-binding protein that opens genes to promote their expression during embryonic development. When GATA6 is absent the genes remain closed and silent. Credit: Cell Reports.

Scientists know that developing cells in a healthy embryo will transform into a variety of cell types that will make up the different organ systems in the human body, a process known as cell differentiation. But they don’t know how the cells do it.

A Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) study in Cell Reports led by Stephen Duncan, D.Phil., examines how an endodermal cell—a type of developing cell—becomes a liver cell and not some other type of cell. Duncan and his team found that the development of naive cells into differentiated liver cells was dependent on the transcription factor GATA6. Duncan is the SmartState Endowed Chair in Regenerative Medicine and chair of the Department of Regenerative Medicine and

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Bacteria live on our eyeballs — and understanding their role could help treat common eye diseases

<span class="caption">The eye has a collection of microbes living on the surface that keep it healthy. </span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/human-eye-medical-detail-1345654691?src=3EN65aoLrSklI70CS0rGYw-1-0&studio=1" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:photoJS/Shutterstock.com">photoJS/Shutterstock.com</a></span>
The eye has a collection of microbes living on the surface that keep it healthy. photoJS/Shutterstock.com

You may be familiar with the idea that your gut and skin are home to a collection of microbes – fungi, bacteria and viruses – that are vital for keeping you healthy. But did you know that your eyes also host a unique menagerie of microbes? Together, they’re called the eye microbiome. When these microbes are out of balance – too many or too few of certain types – eye diseases may emerge.

With a recent study showing bacteria live on the surface of the eye and stimulate protective immunity, scientists are beginning to discover the microbial factors that can be exploited to create innovative therapies for a range of eye disorders like Dry Eye Disease, Sjogren’s Syndrome and corneal scarring. One day it may be possible to engineer bacteria to

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