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STANFORD, Calif. — Like a child awaiting the arrival of Christmas, embryonic stem cells exist in a state of permanent anticipation. They must balance the ability to quickly become more specialized cell types with the cellular chaos that could occur should they act too early (stop shaking those presents, kids!). Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have now identified a critical component, called Jarid2, of this delicate balancing act — one that both recruits other regulatory proteins to genes important in differentiation and also modulates their activity to keep them in a state of ongoing readiness.

“Understanding how only the relevant genes are targeted and remain poised for action is a hot topic in embryonic stem cell research,” said Joanna Wysocka, PhD, assistant professor of developmental biology and of chemical and systems biology. “Our results shed light on both these questions.” Wysocka is the lead author of the research, which will be published in the Dec. 24 issue of Cell.

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