The six-legged fruitfly appears to have little in common with humans, but a new finding shows that they are really just tiny, distant cousins. Scientists at the Carnegie Institutions Department of Embryology have found that adult fruitflies have the same stem cells controlling cell regulation in their gut as humans do. The research is important for understanding digestive disorders, including some cancers, and for developing cures. "The fact that fruitflies have the same genetic programming in their intestines as humans, strongly suggests that we were both cut from the same evolutionary cloth more than 500 million years ago," stated lead author of the December 7, on-line Nature paper, Benjamin Ohlstein.
Watercolor illustration of Drosophila by Edith M. Wallace, Thomas Hunt Morgan’s illustrator. This image was published in C.B. Bridges and T.H. Morgan, Contributions to the Genetics of Drosophila melanogaster (Washington, DC: Carnegie Institution; 1919), CIW publication #278.
It may come as a surprise, but insects have the same basic structure to their gastrointestinal tract as vertebrates. They have a mouth, an esophagus, the equivalent to a stomach, and large and small intestines. The Carnegie researchers looked at their small intestines, where food is broken down into its constituent nutrients for the body to absorb. They focused on two cell types-- cells that line the small and large intestines in a single layer to help break up and transport food molecules, called enterocytes; and cells that produce peptide hormones, some of whose functions include regulation of gastric motility as well as growth and differentiation of the gut (enteroendocrine cells).
In vertebrates, cells of the intestines are continually replenished by stem cells. Up to now, stem cells had not been observed in the gut of the fruitfly. To see if stem cells were at work, the researchers labeled each of the two cell types of interest and observed how successive generations of the cells transformed. They found for the first time that, like their vertebrate cousins, the fly cell types are replenished by stem cells. Moreover, like vertebrates, the stem cells are multipotent, which means that they can turn into different cell types, and Notch signaling is as essential in flies in controlling which intestinal cells form as it is in humans. Notch signaling was also found to instruct stem cells themselves, a role that has as yet to be identified for Notch signaling in vertebrates.
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The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
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Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
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