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Cancer drug hope for genetic disease

Berquez, Gadsby, Festa and colleagues discover that adjusting membrane composition with PI3K inhibitor alpelisib rebalances actin cytoskeletal organisation in cell culture and alleviates absorption defects in an in vivo mouse model of Lowe syndrome/ Dent disease. Their findings provide proof-of-concept for the first disease modifying treatment.

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How does stretching skin make it grow?

By tracing the dynamics of cells during stretch-mediated expansion of the mouse skin epidermis, collaborative studies by the Simons lab have shown - at single-cell resolution - how stem cells react to regenerate tissue and restore homeostasis. Stretching induces skin expansion by creating a transient bias in the renewal activity of epidermal stem cells, while a second subpopulation of basal progenitors remains committed to differentiation.

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Sperm populations show homogeneous epigenetic marks

Gurdon lab and colleagues, led by Jerome Jullien, examined histones in sperm to uncover a conserved mechanism for transmission of epigenetic information to the embryo. As sperm develop they lose a large proportion of the histones found in somatic cells, but the remainder are retained in the same position across the sperm population, indicating the potential to prime transcription for embryonic development.

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Is TF residency time the key to cell fate commitment?

The Gurdon lab used a competition assay to test how long the transcription factor Ascl1, which is a determinant for nerve, resides on chromatin to direct gene expression. While previous studies suggest that residency times are only seconds or minutes, this experiment showed a long-term association of hours or days, which could explain the stability of cell fate commitment.

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Does p53 status affect CRISPR-Cas9 screens?

The CRISPR technique of gene editing commonly involves making double-strand breaks in DNA, which is known to elicit activation of p53, potentially leading to cell cycle arrest or apoptosis. In a CRISPR screen that uses cell viability as an end point, such effects could confound screen performance, so Bowden et al. in the Jackson lab ran parallel screens with wild type and p53 knockout cells to assess the potential impact.

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Parental transmission of pathogen protection to offspring

Burton et al. in the Miska lab show that a soil bacterium, P. vranovensis, is a natural pathogen of the nematode C. elegans and that parental exposure of animals to P. vranovensis promotes offspring resistance to infection. The protective effect of increasing survival of offspring by up to 50-fold is mediated by the cysteine synthases, CYSL-1 and CYSL-2.

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Jenny Gallop in Business Weekly

The new publication from Jenny Gallop's lab (described at left) has hit the news, appearing in Business Weekly.

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Award for research contributing to national prosperity

The Royal Society Mullard Award 2020 is awarded to Professor Steve Jackson for his research that led to the discovery of the drug olaparib, which has reached blockbuster status for the treatment of ovarian and breast cancers.

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Keeping the Gurdon safe and well

From our video series 'A Year in Institute Life', this instalment features our Safety and Compliance Manager, Sylviane Moss, describing the tasks necessary for keeping the Institute's occupants safe while working in what is a hazardous environment. A busy and demanding role - and that was before COVID-19!

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Remote learning for A-level Biology?

We have two FREE online interactive toolkits to support teaching and learning, one on The Cell and the other about Epigenetics. These have been developed as part of our SCoPE project, with teachers and scientists, to address a gap in freely available resources. Everything you need is provided from the website. We'd love your feedback on the toolkits and do spread the word if you find them useful!

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Stitching Science during lockdown

Our Stitching Science project is perfect for all of you out there with creativity, a crochet hook, and time to spare - and while you crochet, you can learn about the incredible working parts inside every living cell. We've provided all the instructions and information for free. So gather up that crochet hook and some wool...

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Institute reopening

The Gurdon Institute reopened on Monday 15th June. Many staff will continue to work from home, and all staff may be contacted by email.

Studying development to understand disease

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

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