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Imbalance in dividing cell fate drives oesophageal cancer in mice

In collaboration with Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute colleagues, the Simons lab has combined biophysical modelling with genetic lineage tracing to show that a ‘tipping of the balance’ in cell fate behaviour, rather than differences in the rate of cell division, leads to tumour development in the mouse oesophagus.

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Exploring epigenetic regulator G9a as a target for cancer therapy

Jackson lab postdoc Pallavi Agarwal identified an inhibitor of the epigenetic regulating enzyme G9a that hypersensitises tumour cells to DNA-damaging agents, leading to tumour cell death while leaving normal cells unaffected. This new study highlights the potential for using G9a inhibitors in combination with DNA-damaging agents in cancer therapy.

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Assembling the microtubule array that specifies A-P axis in the fly

The St Johnston lab has found that a complex of two proteins, Patronin and Shot, is crucial for organising polarised microtubules. These provide the framework for setting up asymmetry in polarised Drosophila oocytes, leading to body axis formation of the developing larva. The same microtubule system underpins polarisation in other cell types.

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Super-high resolution 3D imaging opens the door to address previously unanswerable questions

Two Gurdon Institute imaging experts working with colleagues at Yale University School of Medicine reveal a new technique allowing high-resolution fluorescence microscopy in samples the thickness of mammalian cells. The researchers demonstrate how this powerful technique can image entire subcellular organelles and the distribution of proteins across them.

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How did the ES cell lose its methyl groups?

Azim Surani co-authors a 'Trends in Genetics' Spotlight article with two former lab members, Harry Leitch and Petra Hajkova from the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, examining the subtle details of DNA de-methylation in pluripotent cells. New research is teasing out the mechanisms of this epigenetic reprogramming step in embryonic stem cells, and the authors suggest a role for Prdm14.

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Expert review of cell membrane curvature mechanisms

Membranes that define the limit of cells and form intracellular compartments are fundamental to life, and many different mechanisms exist for maintaining curved membranes. Jenny Gallop's lab survey examples of membrane curvature generation in animals, fungi, and plants, and highlight some exciting new research directions into the molecular mechanisms.

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Thirty-five years of endless cell potential

The Gurdon Institute’s Azim Surani looks at the revolutionary advances in understanding human development and disease that have followed from the isolation of embryonic stem cells. This year marks the 35th anniversary of landmark studies by biologists, including Martin Evans (a former group leader at the Gurdon Institute), who first captured and propagated these elusive pluripotent cells in a Petri dish.

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Studying development to understand disease

The Gurdon Institute is funded by the Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research UK to study the biology of development, and how normal growth and maintenance go wrong in cancer and other diseases.