Stem cells

How stem cells tell signal from noise

    Mouse stem cells switch on a neural developmental program when the activity of a specific gene lasts for a certain length of time.

    Cells are flooded with many signals from gene expression. To find out how cells pick out the important ones from the background noise, Matt Thomson and his colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco, engineered mouse embryonic stem cells so that the Brn2 gene turned on when it was exposed to light. When the activity of this gene reached a specific duration and level, the stem cells rapidly began specializing into neural progenitor cells.

    Mathematical modelling showed that a positive feedback network in the Brn2 circuitry helps to ensure that the Brn2 signal rises above the noise.

    Cell Systems 1, 117–129 (2015)

    Rights and permissions

    Reprints and Permissions

    About this article

    Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

    Cite this article

    How stem cells tell signal from noise. Nature 525, 9 (2015).

    Download citation


    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.