In my opinion, one of the most interesting chalk talks last week was Emre’s discussion on the Foxj1 protein, and its role in ependymal cells. I think it’s fascinating that the entire differentiation process of a cell can depend on solely one transcription factor. Our body contains millions of cell types, yet the mechanism that distinguishes a liver cell from a neuron from a skin cell can differ by just one protein. Emre is trying to understand why and how these proteins degrade so quickly, even though they are so important for ependymal cells. To do this, Emre is mutating various sites on the protein. After finding which site is responsible for degradation, Emre’s lab will use that mutated protein to overexpress Foxj1 in ependymal cells and observe how they react. This information can be crucial in fighting certain neurological diseases. Emre’s project was also particularly interesting to me, as my lab is using a completely different approach to combat neurological diseases.