Nav: Home

Cells react differently to genomic imprinting

July 23, 2020

Previous studies have shown that imprinted genes are more active in some tissues, and less active in others. The neuroscientists led by Hippenmeyer found that imprinted genes in the cortex are also more strongly expressed, i.e. are more active, in some cell types than in others.

Looking at the single cell

To investigate the effect of this varying gene activity, the researchers made use of the MADM technique established by Hippenmeyer. "This technique enables us to color-code cells and simultaneously raise or lower the gene expression level," explains Susanne Laukoter. "In our experiments, we doubled the expression of imprinted genes in some cells and switched their expression off completely in others. We were thus able to observe at the single-cell level how cells react to changes in the gene dose."

The researchers found that cells respond to changes in the dose of imprinted genes by activating certain gene groups - in particular gene groups that are important for cell death, growth, and the development of synapses. This response was strongest in the cell type of astrocytes, a form of glia cells that support neurons.

A detailed analysis showed that astrocytes with a double dose of some paternal genes are always present in higher numbers than astrocytes with a double dose of the corresponding maternal genes. This difference was present throughout the brain's entire development. "Either genomic imprinting protects cells with a double paternal gene dose from cell death, or the double maternal gene dose accelerates cell death," explains Florian Pauler.

Potential relevance for human syndromes

Earlier studies already suggested a link between genomic imprinting and cell death, the newly published study now shows that this link depends on the cell type and is particularly strong in astrocytes. Neurons with a double number of maternal genes did not respond with changes in cell death, but instead formed different connections and networks. Simon Hippenmeyer explains the result. "Each cell type responds differently to disomy, i.e. the presence of two maternal or two paternal genes." This might also be important for humans. "Prader-Willi syndrome and Angelman syndrome are caused by a duplication of an imprinted chromosomal segment. Each organ responds differently to the duplication. Hopefully, if we can better understand the cell type-specific response, a targeted therapy may be possible in the future."

The study also resolves a long-standing debate in neurobiology concerning how many genes in the brain are subject to genomic imprinting, reports Hippenmeyer. "A few dozen genes in the cerebral cortex are imprinted and significantly affect development."
-end-


Institute of Science and Technology Austria

Related Cell Death Articles:

Cell death in porpoises caused by environmental pollutants
Environmental pollutants threaten the health of marine mammals. This study established a novel cell-based assay using the fibroblasts of a finless porpoise stranded along the coast of the Seto Inland Sea, Japan, to better understand the cytotoxicity and the impacts of environmental pollutants on the porpoise population.
Gold nanoparticles to save neurons from cell death
An international research team coordinated by Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Lecce (Italy) has developed gold nanoparticles able to reduce the cell death of neurons exposed to overexcitement.
New light shone on inflammatory cell death regulator
Australian researchers have made significant advances in understanding the inflammatory cell death regulatory protein MLKL and its role in disease.
Silicones may lead to cell death
Silicone molecules from breast implants can initiate processes in human cells that lead to cell death.
New players in the programmed cell death mechanism
Skoltech researchers have identified a set of proteins that are important in the process of apoptosis, or programmed cell death.
Tumors hijack the cell death pathway to live
Cancer cells avoid an immune system attack after radiation by commandeering a cell signaling pathway that helps dying cells avoid triggering an immune response, a new study led by UTSW scientists suggests.
How trans fats assist cell death
Tohoku University researchers in Japan have uncovered a molecular link between some trans fats and a variety of disorders, including cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.
Bacteria can 'outsmart' programmed cell death
To be able to multiply, bacteria that cause diarrhoea block mediators of programmed cell death, a new study in 'Nature Microbiology' shows.
Cell death or cancer growth: A question of cohesion
Activation of CD95, a receptor found on all cancer cells, triggers programmed cell death -- or does the opposite, namely stimulates cancer cell growth.
Cell death blocker prevents healthy cells from dying
Researchers have discovered a proof-of-concept drug that can prevent healthy cells from dying in the laboratory.
More Cell Death News and Cell Death Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Debbie Millman: Designing Our Lives
From prehistoric cave art to today's social media feeds, to design is to be human. This hour, designer Debbie Millman guides us through a world made and remade–and helps us design our own paths.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#574 State of the Heart
This week we focus on heart disease, heart failure, what blood pressure is and why it's bad when it's high. Host Rachelle Saunders talks with physician, clinical researcher, and writer Haider Warraich about his book "State of the Heart: Exploring the History, Science, and Future of Cardiac Disease" and the ails of our hearts.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Insomnia Line
Coronasomnia is a not-so-surprising side-effect of the global pandemic. More and more of us are having trouble falling asleep. We wanted to find a way to get inside that nighttime world, to see why people are awake and what they are thinking about. So what'd Radiolab decide to do?  Open up the phone lines and talk to you. We created an insomnia hotline and on this week's experimental episode, we stayed up all night, taking hundreds of calls, spilling secrets, and at long last, watching the sunrise peek through.   This episode was produced by Lulu Miller with Rachael Cusick, Tracie Hunte, Tobin Low, Sarah Qari, Molly Webster, Pat Walters, Shima Oliaee, and Jonny Moens. Want more Radiolab in your life? Sign up for our newsletter! We share our latest favorites: articles, tv shows, funny Youtube videos, chocolate chip cookie recipes, and more. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.