Researchers at the University of Buffalo, New York, have discovered a single master growth factor that regulates the entire genome.
The "master orchestrator" of genome is a single nuclear protein that functions like an orchestra conductor, programming the "symphony of biology."
Senior author Michal K. Stachowiak said that the finding provides a new level of understanding of the fundamental aspects of how organisms develop, adding that the research shows how a single growth factor receptor protein moves directly to the nucleus in order to program the entire genome.
The research challenges a long-held supposition in biology that specific types of growth factors only functioned at a cell's surface. For two decades, Stachowiak's team has been intrigued by the possibility that growth factors function from within the nucleus, a point, he says, this current paper finally proves.
A more advanced understanding of how organisms form, based on this work, has the potential to significantly enhance the understanding and treatment of cancers, which result from uncontrolled development as well as congenital diseases, the researchers say.
The new research, which was conducted on mouse embryonic stem cells, not human cells, will also contribute to the understanding of how stem cells work.