During the development of the nervous system, there are a number of critical events that generate different types of nerve cells in particular locations of the brain and at particular times. "We found that specific types of hindbrain visceral motor nerve cells do not develop when the function of a gene called Runx1 is disrupted in mice, while other types of nerve cells develop normally", explained Dr. Stefano Stifani, Associate Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery and Anatomy and Cell Biology. "This has never been shown before and it is an important step in understanding how these nerve cells form during normal development."
The hindbrain visceral motor nerve cells normally control the ability to maintain a stable internal environment in response to internal or external influences. Problems associated with their development or function could have important implications for the control of vital body functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, and electrolyte balance.
These results describe a new function for Runx1, which has a well documented role in the development of blood cells. In humans, Runx1 is called AML1. AML1 is the most frequent target of chromosomal translocations that cause acute myeloid leukemia. "This is a significant finding as it suggests for the first time that similar mechanisms involving Runx1 play roles in motor nerve cell and blood cell development and importantly it provides a new avenue
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