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April 28, 2016

USC Stem Cell study illuminates bone formation and vertebrate evolution

Rendition of developing vertebrate bones. In their study, Hojo and colleagues address the transcriptional action and evolution of Sp7/Osx, a key determinant of vertebrate-restricted bone forming osteoblasts. (Painting by Kristen Chen; courtesy of Developmental Cell 2016)

Rendition of developing vertebrate bones. In their study, Hojo and colleagues address the transcriptional action and evolution of Sp7/Osx, a key determinant of vertebrate-restricted bone forming osteoblasts. (Painting by Kristen Chen; courtesy of Developmental Cell 2016)

By Cristy Lytal

With the emergence of bone, the diversity of life expanded to encompass the bone-forming vertebrates, a group of species ranging from the tiny frog Paedophryne amauensis to the mighty blue whale. Bone formation in vertebrates is linked to a shared gene, called Sp7 or Osterix, that acts early in establishing the bone-forming cells or osteoblasts.

In a new study in Developmental Cell, Hironori Hojo from the USC Stem Cell laboratory of Andrew McMahon and colleagues reveal how Sp7 directs the development of bone-secreting osteoblasts to fashion the skeleton.

“This is a wonderful example of how a narrow focus on the workings of a single gene illuminates bigger questions on the evolution of a skeletal scaffold we mammals share with fish, frogs, lizard and birds,” said Andrew McMahon, senior author and W.M. Keck Provost Professor and chair of the Department of Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

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April 28, 2016

Hastings Center for Pulmonary Research holds inaugural symposium

Keynote speaker Brigid Hogan presents at the Hastings Center for Pulmonary Research inaugural symposium March 11. (Photo courtesy of HSC News)

Keynote speaker Brigid Hogan presents at the Hastings Center for Pulmonary Research inaugural symposium March 11. (Photo courtesy of HSC News)

By Melissa Masatani

Physicians and leading scientists from across the country gathered recently to celebrate the inauguration of the Keck School of Medicine of USC’s Hastings Center for Pulmonary Research.

More than 100 people attended the symposium, titled “The Pulmonary Challenge: Innovations in Lung Development, Stem Cells and Regeneration,” held March 11 in the Aresty Auditorium on the USC Health Sciences Campus. The event highlighted the center’s core research focus on lung injury, repair and regeneration, said the center’s director Zea Borok, USC Stem Cell affiliate principal investigator and chief of the division of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at Keck Medicine of USC.

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