Simple Gene Circuits Hint at How Stem Cells Find New Identities

May 20, 2022

(Quanta Magazine) – Now, a group of biologists at the California Institute of Technology with backgrounds in physics have reported in Science that they have devised a simple network of genes that gives rise to surprisingly complex, lifelike behaviors. It could represent an important advance in understanding how nature tells cells to differentiate. By introducing a small number of engineered genes into cells and applying the right chemical cues, the researchers were able to direct the cells into seven different stable states, each distinguishable under the microscope by a different glowing color. The cells exhibited key properties associated with differentiated cells; for example, they were stably committed to being one type of cell, but they also exhibited a “memory” of their previous activity that affected their responses to new circumstances. (Read More)