Weizmann Institute scientists develop new analytical method
Some fundamental outstanding questions in science – "Where do stem cells originate?" "How does cancer develop?" "When do cell types split off from each other in the embryo?" – might be answered if scientists had a way to map the history of the body’s cells going back to the fertilized egg. Now, a multidisciplinary team at the Weizmann Institute of Science has developed an analytical method that can trace the lineage trees of cells.
This accomplishment started with a challenge to common wisdom, which says that every cell in an organism carries an exact duplicate of its genome. Although mistakes in copying, which are passed on to the next generation of cells as mutations, occur when cells divide, such tiny flaws in the genome are thought to be trivial and mainly irrelevant. But research students Dan Frumkin and Adam Wasserstrom of the Institute’s Biological Chemistry Department, working under the guidance of Prof. Ehud Shapiro of the Biological Chemistry and Computer Science and Applied Mathematics Departments, raised a new possibility: though biologically insignificant, the accumulated mutations might hold a record of the history of cell divisions. These findings were published today in PLoS Computational Biology.
Elizabeth McCrocklin | EurekAlert!
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