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The Art in Science

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Matthew Velkey, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan Medical School

These modified mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells express a gene called Neurogenin1, which is normally present in parts of the developing nervous system. After three days in culture, the cells were stained with a dye (blue) that binds to DNA and thus labels the cell nuclei. Some ES cells have differentiated into neurons and are labeled with a neuron-specific antibody (red), while others are labeled with an antibody that recognizes Sox3 (green), a protein characteristic of immature neural progenitors. Using ES cells as a model system to elucidate the signals controlling these fate decisions will be useful not only as we seek to unravel the remaining mysteries of early embryonic development, but also in our efforts to develop cell replacement therapies from this very promising resource.