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Saturday, April 6, 2019

Cityblog Science Club Blog: The importance of FOX1 Genes in the brain development

Cityblog introduces Science club for young and old interested readers. This section is edited by  Riya Naik (CT USA)

Pls visit  Riya's Science Blog  to know more and write to us at to contribute here

Labeled diagram of neuron cells

We execute numerous numbers of functions every day. Some are voluntary like reading, exercising, writing or learning and involuntary like breathing, digesting or maintaining homeostasis or in other words maintaining the normal balance of the body.
            Long story short: we need our brains to breathe, eat, study, exercise and even dream! Our brains are comprised of trillion cells. The two types of brain cells-neurons and glial cells- are crucial for brain functioning. Neurons basically transmit the electrical signals throughout the body. The glial cells just provide insulation to these neurons to prevent damage to these precious brain cells which basically guide us to do everything we do every day. That is why glial cells are extremely important. But, still how does the body determine what cells become neurons and what becomes glial cells? Probably, this question motivated the scientists at SISSA to research about these brain cells and their origins. 

            During research, scientists have discovered the importance of FOXg1 gene in the origins of the glial and neuron cell. As the prior knowledge tells us that when the FOX1 gene is mutated, there are abnormalities in the development of the structure of the brain giving rise to FOXG1 syndrome.  Previously it was suggested that the stem cells gave rise to the neurons and which in turn produce the glial cells through astrocytes. Astrocytes provide nutrients to the neurons and modulation of the neuron activity. However, what causes this process of transition was unknown. The SISSA researchers have now discovered the importance of FOXg1gene in the developmental processes.
            During the research, the scientists discovered that the level of FOXg1 gene expression reduces when the astrocyte production begins. Not only that, the FOXg1 “controls” the master genes and implies the choice between that of astrocytes and neurons.
            Now, why is this research important? This research is important because we now can better understand the role of FOXg1 genes in neurological disorders including the FOXg1 syndrome causes abnormal brain structure leading to intellectual disability. The FOXg1 gene plays an important role in brain development and perhaps if this function is compromised it is likely to create a cascade of problems.
However, with this research, the possibility of gene therapy is perceived to overcome the problem of the shortening time of the generation of the astroglial cells which is common in the abnormal brain development syndrome. Also, researching the importance of stem cells in developmental pathways can be useful to research more about the gene therapies to cure such abnormal brain developmental syndromes.

Works Cited:
“Discovery of the genetic “conductor” of brain stem cells. Science Magazine. Date published: March 4, 2019. Date Accessed: March 24, 2019
FOXG1 syndrome - Genetics Home Reference - NIH”. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Date Accessed: March 24, 2019

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