Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Human gland probably evolved from gills

07.12.2004


The human parathyroid gland, which regulates the level of calcium in the blood, probably evolved from the gills of fish, according to researchers from King’s College London.

Writing in the latest edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Professor Anthony Graham and Dr Masataka Okabe suggest that the gills of ancestral marine creatures, which were used to regulate calcium levels, were internalised rather than lost when land-living, four-limbed animals – the tetrapods – evolved.

Many physiological processes such as muscle contraction, blood coagulation and signalling by nerve cells, require specific levels of calcium in the body. In humans, calcium levels are regulated by the parathyroid gland, which secretes parathyroid hormone if the calcium concentration in the blood falls too low. This hormone then causes the release of calcium from bone, and increases its reuptake in the kidney, raising the calcium levels back to normal.



Fish don’t have parathyroid glands. Instead they increase their internal calcium concentration by using their gills to take up calcium from the surrounding water.

‘As the tetrapod parathyroid gland and the gills of fish both contribute to the regulation of extracellular calcium levels, it is reasonable to suggest that the parathyroid gland evolved from a transformation of the gills when animals made the transition from the aquatic to the terrestrial environment,’ said Professor Graham.

‘This interpretation would also explain why the parathyroid gland is positioned in the neck. If the gland had emerged from scratch when tetrapods evolved it could, as an endocrine organ, have been placed anywhere in the body and still exert its effect.’

The researchers supported their theory by carrying out experiments that show that the parathyroid glands of mice and chickens and the gills of zebrafish and dogfish contain many similarities.

Both gills and parathyroid gland develop from the same type of tissue in the embryo, called the pharyngeal pouch endoderm; both structures express a gene called Gcm-2, and both need this gene to develop correctly.

Furthermore, the researchers found a gene for parathyroid hormone in fish, and they discovered that this gene is expressed in the gills. ‘The parathyroid gland and the gills of fish are related structures and likely share a common evolutionary history,’ said Professor Graham. ‘Our work will have great resonance to all those people who have seen Haeckels’ pictures, which show that we all go through a fish stage in our development. This new research suggests that in fact, our gills are still sitting in our throats – disguised as our parathyroid glands.’

Gemma Bradley | alfa
Further information:
http://www.kcl.ac.uk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Not of Divided Mind
19.01.2017 | Hertie-Institut für klinische Hirnforschung (HIH)

nachricht CRISPR meets single-cell sequencing in new screening method
19.01.2017 | CeMM Forschungszentrum für Molekulare Medizin der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland

19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Not of Divided Mind

19.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Molecule flash mob

19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>