Scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have generated an atlas of genes—the essentialome —that are essential for the normal growth and maintenance of human pluripotentent stem cells (hPSCs). The team, led by Nissim Benvenisty, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Azrieli Center for Stem Cells and Genetic Research and the Herbert Cohn Chair in Cancer Research, carried out a genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 loss-of-function screen on haploid human embryonic stem cell (hESCs) to highlight which of more than 18,000 genes are necessary for growth and survival of the pluripotent cells and which genes restrict cell growth.

“Our screen revealed the essentialome of hPSC-specific genes, and highlighted the main pathways that regulate the growth of these cells,” the researchers write in their published paper in Nature Cell Biology . The findings also uncovered opposing roles for tumor suppressor and oncogenes, evaluated the role of genes for hereditary disorders in early human …