Ann Conkle
Mar 14, 2012

Cells can acquire new functions through transcriptional regulatory networks

Researchers at the RIKEN Omics Science Center have developed an experimental technique for producing cells with specific functions through the artificial reconstruction of transcriptional regulatory networks (TRNs), networks of transcription factors and the genes they regulate. As an alternative to induced pluripotent stem cells, the technique promises faster and more efficient production of functional cells for use in cancer therapy and a variety of other areas. The team established a series of new methods for identifying transcription factors (TFs) for monocyte cells. TF genes of the monocyte TRN, identified using this approach, were introduced into cells of a different type, expression of which activated monocytic functions including phagocytosis (engulfing particles), inflammatory response and cell movement, demonstrating that reconstruction of a functional TRN can be achieved by introducing core TRN elements into unrelated cells.