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Alter just one section of the protein responsible for making a muscle cell a muscle cell — and it makes nerve cells instead
March 19, 2015
| By Dr. Sabrina Richards / Fred Hutch News Service
Scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center discovered that the power to turn precursor stem cells into muscle cells or neurons lies in one small section of the gene-orchestrating proteins. When they replaced this segment of the muscle-specific protein, called MyoD, with the corresponding segment from the neuronal protein, MyoD transformed into a protein that pushed cells down the path of neuronal development. The team’s findings, published March 19 in Cell Reports, could have wider implications for researchers looking to hobble the genetic programs cancer cells coopt in order to grow unrestrainedly.