This latest discovery adds to the growing list of roles Prox1 plays. "Prox1 has been a central gene in every organ we've studied so far in the developing embryo," Oliver said. "We've previously discovered that Prox1 is critical to the normal development of the liver, the lens of the eye, and the entire lymphatic system, which is a critical part of the immune system."
The ongoing work at St. Jude has demonstrated that during embryo development, Prox1 plays at least three critical roles. It controls the proliferation of cells, prompts cells to migrate from their original positions in the embryo to the location where they will help form a tissue or organ and makes those cells become a very specialized cell type so they perform a specific task in that organ or tissue. Other authors of this report include Constance L. Cepko (Harvard University, Boston) and Frederick J. Livesey (Harvard University and Wellcome/CRC Institute of Cancer and Developmental Biology, University of Cambridge, UK).