Cellular reprogramming has been further illucidated

3D structure of Oct4 (in green) bound to DNA helix. The linker is shown in red (Credit: EMBL/Vivian Pogenberg)Scientists have recently published the important details of the structure of the transcription factor Oct4 that plays an important role in the reprogramming of the terminally differentiated cells.

This research has been published online in the journal Nature Cell Biology.

Transcription factor refers to the protein involved in the transfer of the genetic information. Researchers have found that Oct4 regulates the gene expression for reprogramming of the mature cells helping them to become pluripotent again.

Scientists have used the high-intensity X-ray beams to determine the 3D structure of Oct4 transcription factor. Specially, the previously unknown linker sequence between two DNA binding elements of the protein got scientists’ attention.  This 3D structure of the transcription factor could help scientists to achieve new targets in regenerative medicine and drug discovery.

“The uniqueness of the linker has caught our attention for more than a decade and, thus, we are extremely pleased to see it for the first time, helping us rationalize its function in reprogramming cells to pluripotency,” Matthias Wilmanns, who led the work in Hamburg, said.

“Our work shows how unique the Oct4 interface is and how crucial it is for reprogramming to pluripotency. These are vital steps forward in our understanding of cell reprogramming and could lead us to new applications in the fields of drug discovery and tissue engineering” Hans Schöler, one of the authors of the paper from Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine, said in a statement.

Reference:

Daniel Esch, Juha Vahokoski, Matthew R. Groves, Vivian Pogenberg, Vlad Cojocaru, Hermann vom Bruch, Dong Han, Hannes C.A. Drexler, Marcos J. Araúzo-Bravo, Calista K.L. Ng, Ralf Jauch, Matthias Wilmanns and Hans R. Schöler, (2013). A unique Oct4 interface is crucial for reprogramming to pluripotency. Nature Cell Biology, doi:10.1038/ncb2680