Primordial super-enhancers provide early snapshot of the mechanisms that allowed for multicellularity - Featuring David Pincus, PhD

Dec 22, 2022
By Alie Caldwell, PhD

New research at the University of Chicago has found that the same machinery used by mammalian cells to drive cellular differentiation also plays a critical role in activating genes in yeast in response to environmental stress. The results, which were published on November 17 in Molecular Cell, suggest that these machines, known as transcriptional condensates, are an ancient, conserved tool used by eukaryotic cells to promote high level gene expression for over a billion years. The findings are helping to not only better explain how cells respond dynamically to environmental cues but also have implications for understanding human diseases such as cancer and neurodegeneration.

The study extends existing research on transcriptional condensates in mammalian cells into yeast and their heat shock response – how cells respond to high temperatures. “The heat shock response is ancient,” said David Pincus, PhD, Assistant Professor of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology at UChicago. “This response existed long before there were people — long before there were even yeast! It predates the split between prokaryotes and eukaryotes, so it’s a really fundamental and important cellular response.”   READ MORE...


If cells couldn’t’ cope with changes in the environment we’d all be toast. It’s a beautiful thing to see.

David Pincus, PhD