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Embryos, clones, stem cells

06/01/2007

Cold Spring Harbor Protocols features methods to understand embryos, clones, stem cells


COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y. (Fri., June 1, 2007) – Cloning, X-chromosome inactivation, stem cells, and embryogenesis are hot areas of research at the moment, and protocols featured in this month's release of Cold Spring Harbor Protocols (cshprotocols.cshlp.org) will aid these studies. At the heart of these research areas are efforts to understand specific chemical modifications to proteins that surround DNA in its native cellular environment. These "epigenetic marks" are indicative of gene activity ("off" versus "on"), and can be used to understand processes underlying normal development, cellular reprogramming, and even events leading to cancer and other disease states.

One of the protocols, freely available at (cshprotocols.cshlp.org/cgi/content/full/2007/12/pdb.prot4767), describes how to characterize these epigenetic marks in native chromatin (i.e., the DNA is still bound to its associated proteins, as it would exist in its normal cellular environment). It specifies how to harvest native chromatin from a variety of cell types, fractionate the chromatin into manageable fragments, and then use an antibody to tag and isolate the proteins that possess specific epigenetic marks. Because the proteins remain bound to the DNA, the researchers can determine which genes (and other genomic elements) were "off" or "on" in the cell.
The June release of Cold Spring Harbor Protocols also features a set of methods to investigate embryogenesis in the frog, Xenopus laevis. Xenopus are commonly used for developmental studies because they produce large embryos that develop rapidly, are easy to maintain and manipulate, and can be induced to ovulate year-round.

One of the Xenopus-related protocols describes a method for surgically isolating and culturing a specific slice of tissue from Xenopus embryos. These tissue slices, called "Keller explants," contain cells that undergo dynamic movements and interactions during embryogenesis. The slices allow scientists to observe and test morphological and molecular changes that occur in a normally opaque embryo, and to see what's happening several layers deep into the embryo. The protocol is freely available at (cshprotocols.cshlp.org/cgi/content/full/2007/12/pdb.prot4749).



ABOUT COLD SPRING HARBOR PROTOCOLS:

Cold Spring Harbor Protocols (cshprotocols.cshlp.org) is an online resource of methods used in a wide range of biology laboratories. It is structured to be highly interactive, with each protocol cross-linked to related methods, descriptive information panels, and illustrative material to maximize the total information available to investigators. Each protocol is clearly presented and designed for easy use at the bench—complete with reagents, equipment, and recipe lists. Life science researchers can access the entire collection via institutional site licenses, and can add their suggestions and comments to further refine the techniques.

ABOUT COLD SPRING HARBOR LABORATORY PRESS:
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press is an internationally renowned publisher of books, journals, and electronic media located on Long Island, New York. It is a division of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, an innovator in life science research and the education of scientists, students, and the public. For more information, visit www.cshlpress.com.

MEDIA CONTACTS:
For content and submission information:
David Crotty (crotty@cshl.edu; 516-422-4007), Executive Editor, Cold Spring Harbor Protocols

For access, subscription, and free trial information:
Wayne Manos (manos@cshl.edu; 516-422-4009), Director, Serials Marketing, CSHL Press





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