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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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Antibody technology pinpoints role for actin regulator SNX9 in filopodia

Jarsch et al. present a new way to study how filopodia form, which is helping understand pathogen infection. The Gallop lab combined their cell-free system of filopodia-like structures with phage display phenotypic screening, in collaboration with Antibody Discovery and Protein Engineering at AZ. They identified a role for actin regulatory protein SNX9 in filopodia and, with Richard Hayward (Pathology Dept), showed its colocalisation with the entry of human pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis into cells.

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Tailless/TLX directs cell fate change in tumourigenesis

Hakes and Brand uncover the cell fate changes that occur during brain tumour initiation. They show that high levels of Tailless/TLX, known to be associated with aggressive glioblastomas, revert intermediate progenitors to neural stem cells as a first step to tumourigenesis. Their findings also support enforced differentiation as an effective treatment for Tailless/TLX-induced brain tumours.

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Seeing dots and stripes

By combining two Turing systems for pattern generation, 'dot' and 'stripe', Cornwall Scoones and Hiscock from the Simons lab propose a mechanism that can control joint patterning in the digits of a four-limbed organism. This unifying theory can be applied across species, regardless of the underlying biological markers.

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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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Cancelled: Aspiring Scientists Training Programme

We have decided to cancel this year's Aspiring Scientists Training Programme, due to the disruption and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic. All applicants have been informed. We hope to be able to run the programme again next year.

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Physical Biology Centre launched

The newly launched Cambridge Centre for Physical Biology aims to support and facilitate multidisciplinary collaborations across the University of Cambridge. Gurdon Institute Group Leader Ben Simons is one of the main leaders of the project. Explore the project website for more information.

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Spinouts from the Gurdon

Our final video in the series 'A Year in Institute Life' looks at two current examples of the many spinout companies and enterprises to come from the Gurdon Institute. In the clip shown, Prof Steve Jackson describes how fundamental research has led to more than one new concept to spin out from his lab.

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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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