Reading the Blueprint of Life: Transcription, Stem Cells and Differentiation

Mouse embryonic stem cells.

Image of some mouse embryonic stem cells with fluorescent marker.


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Fall 2006



Cite This Course

Course Description

In this course, we will address how transcriptional regulators both prohibit and drive differentiation during the course of development. How does a stem cell know when to remain a stem cell and when to become a specific cell type? Are there global differences in the way the genome is read in multipotent and terminally differentiated cells? We will explore how stem cell pluripotency is preserved, how master regulators of cell-fate decisions execute developmental programs, and how chromatin regulators control undifferentiated versus differentiated states. Additionally, we will discuss how aberrant regulation of transcriptional regulators produces disorders such as developmental defects and cancer.

This course is one of many Advanced Undergraduate Seminars offered by the Biology Department at MIT. These seminars are tailored for students with an interest in using primary research literature to discuss and learn about current biological research in a highly interactive setting. Many instructors of the Advanced Undergraduate Seminars are postdoctoral scientists with a strong interest in teaching.

Matthew Guenther, and Roshan Kumar. 7.342 Reading the Blueprint of Life: Transcription, Stem Cells and Differentiation, Fall 2006. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

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