Troy Ghashghaei, assistant professor in NC State’s Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences and researcher in the Center for Comparative Medicine and Translational Research, wanted to know more about the function of Sp2, a cell cycle regulator that helps control how cells divide. Using genetic tools, Ghashghaei’s team got rid of Sp2 in certain neural stem cells in mice, specifically those that produce the major neurons of the brain’s cerebral cortex. They found that a lack of Sp2 disrupted normal cell formation in these stem cells, and the abnormal stem cells were unable to produce normal cell “offspring,” or neurons. Instead, the abnormal stem cells just created copies of themselves, which were also abnormal.
The results appear online in the journal Development.