Ctip2 helps regulate the complicated process that ends up creating T cells. Depending on the stage of development when it's knocked out, this can result either in T cells not being formed, or different kinds of cells being formed something that would be of significant interest to researchers who are trying to re-program cells to perform different functions.
Part of what's remarkable about Ctip2, researchers say, is the range of seemingly separate yet critical functions it performs. Ctip2 is essential in the creation of teeth, the formation of skin, and T cells. In all of these cells and tissues, Ctip2 is involved in differentiation of one cell type into another, more mature cell. OSU researchers have also found that the amount of Ctip2 expressed by certain cancer cells is correlated with the aggressiveness of tumors, which may be helpful for diagnostic purposes.
Every cell in the human body, and that of plants and other animals, contains the entire "genome," or genetic blueprint of life of the particular organism. Research on genetic regulators has been of increasing interest in recent years because these proteins hold the key to which genes are expressed, instructing one cell to become a brain cell while another is directed to become a blood cell.
"I've always been in awe of how transcription factors direct complicated events, such as development, in which mammals progress from a single, fertilized cell into a complex, three-dimensional organism in a relatively short period of time," Leid said. "It's just a beautifully choreographed dance, and timing is everything."
Ctip2 seems to be a very top-level regulator of development and differentiation in many different cell types, Leid said. It should be possible to develop drugs that decrease, increase or otherwise modify Ctip2 activity, and such drugs may be useful in the treatment of certain malignancies, such as leukemia, and skin cancers, he said.
|Contact: Mark Leid|
Oregon State University