Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

EMBL researchers discover key molecular “switch” in eye development of medaka fish

19.02.2004


Researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg have discovered a molecular “switch” that guides the development of the eye in a fish called medaka. The interaction of two proteins determines whether cells divide or specialize at a key moment as the eye forms. Researchers are keenly interested in such switches because the decision to replicate or differentiate is crucial to many processes, from the proper growth of embryos to the development of cancer. The story appears in this week’s edition of Nature (February 19, 2004).



“The discovery of this novel protein-protein connection is a major step forward in understanding a basic biological process such as the tight control and delicate balance between cell proliferation and cell differentiation,” notes PhD student Filippo Del Bene.

At any one time, the body’s cells choose between one of two paths: either divide to produce exact copies of themselves (called “proliferation”) or to take on very specialized shapes and functions such as liver, brain or retinal cells (called “differentiation”). Building a fish – or a human – involves perfect timing in switching back and forth between the two processes. If cells specialize too early, organs won’t grow. If tissue continues to divide after it has specialized, tumors may form.


Group Leader Jochen Wittbrodt and PhD student Filippo Del Bene were studying a protein called SIX3, produced by cells that will form the head in medaka embryos. SIX3 helps cells develop into the retina and part of the brain. “This protein is so powerful that if a cell produces it at the wrong stage of development, a retina will form – even if it’s in the wrong place in the body,” Wittbrodt says.

Del Bene discovered that SIX3 can clamp onto another protein called GEMININ, known to researchers for its role in cell division. “If GEMININ is around, cells don’t divide," Del Bene says. "It prevents them from copying their DNA, necessary for cell division.”

When GEMININ is active at the wrong time, it disrupts cell division, making retinal cells specialize too early. Del Bene and Wittbrodt showed that when SIX3 locks onto it, GEMININ is unable to stop division, and the tissue grows to its proper size. When the cells have reached their normal size, GEMININ needs to unlock itself from SIX3 to become active again, so that tissues don’t become too large. Building the eye requires subtly shifting between amounts of these two proteins at the right times.

“This process of switching back and forth is necessary in the tissues of all organisms," Wittbrodt says. "It’s fascinating to find that just two molecules play a fundamental role in the medaka eye. There may be similar switches in other tissues and other organisms. This gives us a good place to start looking.”

Trista Dawson | alfa
Further information:
http://www.embl-heidelberg.de/ExternalInfo/oipa/pr2004/pr190204.pdf

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Superresolution live-cell imaging provides unexpected insights into the dynamic structure of mitochondria
18.02.2020 | Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf

nachricht Blood and sweat: Wearable medical sensors will get major sensitivity boost
18.02.2020 | Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Freiburg researcher investigate the origins of surface texture

Most natural and artificial surfaces are rough: metals and even glasses that appear smooth to the naked eye can look like jagged mountain ranges under the microscope. There is currently no uniform theory about the origin of this roughness despite it being observed on all scales, from the atomic to the tectonic. Scientists suspect that the rough surface is formed by irreversible plastic deformation that occurs in many processes of mechanical machining of components such as milling.

Prof. Dr. Lars Pastewka from the Simulation group at the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg and his team have simulated such...

Im Focus: Skyrmions like it hot: Spin structures are controllable even at high temperatures

Investigation of the temperature dependence of the skyrmion Hall effect reveals further insights into possible new data storage devices

The joint research project of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that had previously demonstrated...

Im Focus: Making the internet more energy efficient through systemic optimization

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, recently completed a 5-year research project looking at how to make fibre optic communications systems more energy efficient. Among their proposals are smart, error-correcting data chip circuits, which they refined to be 10 times less energy consumptive. The project has yielded several scientific articles, in publications including Nature Communications.

Streaming films and music, scrolling through social media, and using cloud-based storage services are everyday activities now.

Im Focus: New synthesis methods enhance 3D chemical space for drug discovery

After helping develop a new approach for organic synthesis -- carbon-hydrogen functionalization -- scientists at Emory University are now showing how this approach may apply to drug discovery. Nature Catalysis published their most recent work -- a streamlined process for making a three-dimensional scaffold of keen interest to the pharmaceutical industry.

"Our tools open up whole new chemical space for potential drug targets," says Huw Davies, Emory professor of organic chemistry and senior author of the paper.

Im Focus: Quantum fluctuations sustain the record superconductor

Superconductivity approaching room temperature may be possible in hydrogen-rich compounds at much lower pressures than previously expected

Reaching room-temperature superconductivity is one of the biggest dreams in physics. Its discovery would bring a technological revolution by providing...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

70th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting: Around 70 Laureates set to meet with young scientists from approx. 100 countries

12.02.2020 | Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Movement of a liquid droplet generates over 5 volts of electricity

18.02.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Powering the future: Smallest all-digital circuit opens doors to 5 nm next-gen semiconductor

18.02.2020 | Information Technology

Studying electrons, bridging two realms of physics: connecting solids and soft matter

18.02.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>