Author: Stem Cells Daily

Optogenetic Hack Advances Synthetic Morphogenesis

A living organism, says the synthetic biologist, is the output generated by a tangle of interconnected subprograms. Naturally, the synthetic biologist wants to disentangle these programs and—to the extent possible—modularize them, so that they may be plucked from their ordinary, living contexts and put to work, harnessed for applications such as regenerative medicine. Adding to the synthetic biologist’s collection of parts, scientists based at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) have isolated a signaling mechanism that helps determine tissue shapes. We’ve uncoupled the link between the shape and function of a cell,” said the EMBL’s Stefano De Renzis, Ph.D. “This allows us to, for the first time, build tissues in a certain shape without affecting the cell’s expertise. Dr. De Renzia and colleagues have used optogenetics to reconstruct a fundamental developmental process called epithelial folding. Epithelial folding causes cells to move inward and fold into the embryo,...

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