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Scientists Develop a Method to Engineer Cell States With Artificial Proteins

In a study published in Stem Cell Reports, a research group of the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health introduces a screening platform to identify artificial proteins, boosting the generation of induced pluripotent stem cells. Therefore, different tissue samples - such as skin, blood, or urine, can be reprogrammed into a pluripotent state by culturing them in a dish and introducing cocktails of molecular switches , turning genes on or off.

 

The laboratory of Ralf Jauch had previously demonstrated how manipulating those switch molecules, also known as transcription factors, can improve or even switch their function. The team now decided to “throw the dice” and randomized critical molecular interfaces of these molecules to produce libraries consisting of thousands of mutant transcription factors. Next, these libraries were introduced into cells to initiate a race to select winning mutations that induce pluripotency faster and more effectively than the natively occurring factors. Using this method, Veeramohan Veerapandian, a graduate student and the main driver of the work, found dozens of artificially evolved and enhanced proteins.

These artificial transcription factors work substantially better than the conventionally used factors. The team plans to further develop this technology to directly interconvert somatic cells and to use these cells for applications in regenerative medicine.

 
The article can be accessed online:http://www.cell.com/stem-cell-reports/fulltext/S2213-6711(18)30307-2

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