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A GROUP OF IEO RESEARCHERS HAVE DISCOVERED THE ROLE PLAYED BY THE ENZYME GSK3 IN THE SPECIFIC FUNCTIONS OF THE HUMAN BRAIN

Published in Stem Cell Reports; a study investigating what occurs in the early stages of our cerebral development using state-of-the-art technology

A group of European Institute of Oncology and University of Milan researchers under Giuseppe Testa, Director of the IEO Stem Cell and Epigenetics Laboratory and Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Milan and Director of the Human Technopole Center for Neurogenetics, has discovered the role of the enzyme GSK3 in the specific functions of the human brain, investigating for the first time what occurs in early stages of our cerebral development, using frontier technologies, such as organoids. The study has just been published in Stem Cell Reports.

“GSK3 is an enzyme that performs an essential role in regulating multiple biological processes, such as those that cause tumors – Testa explains – In our study, we investigated another process in which GSK plays a key role: the development of the neurons that make up the cerebral cortex. Here, we discovered that GSK3 is located at the crossroads of the mechanisms of cellular proliferation, which allow the number of progenitor cells and those that determine their transformation into mature neurons to be expanded. The mutations in the coding gene for GSK3 are actually associated with various neuropsychiatric disorders, such as autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder. What has allowed us to investigate these complex events, intrinsically linked to the unity of the human nervous system, was the adoption of an innovative experimental model: cerebral organoids, or test-tube mini-brains”.

The co-author of the study, Alejandro López-Tobón, explains that the organoids are three-dimensional cell cultures – Starting from human pluripotent stem cells, it is actually possible to obtain structures that develop by accurately simulating the spatial and temporal organization of multiple types of cells that make up the human fetal cerebral cortex”.

“We are particularly satisfied as it is the first time that cerebral organoids and single-cell omic analysis, two of the most innovative technologies in biomedicine, have been combined not just to describe the development of the human cerebral cortex but to define a key mechanism at the base of its specificity”, Testa concludes.

A group of European Institute of Oncology and University of Milan researchers under Giuseppe Testa, Director of the IEO Stem Cell Epigenetics laboratory, has discovered the role of the enzyme GSK3 in the specific functions of the human brain by investigating for the first time what occurs in early stages of our cerebral development.

PARTNERSHIP

Università degli Studi di Milano Ecancer Medical Science IFOM-IEO Campus

CREDITS

Ministero della Salute Joint Commission International Breastcertification bollinirosa

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