Philadelphia, PA -- After five years and thousands of zebrafish breeding experiments, Mary C. Mullins, PhD, associate professor of cell and developmental biology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and colleagues have published a description of dozens of mutations that will help determine the earliest steps in vertebrate development, which take the spherical embryo to a complex creature. These discoveries are described in a pair of papers in the June Developmental Cell and are featured on the cover of that issue. In time, these discoveries may help researchers understand human sterility and fertility problems, as well as what causes certain birth defects.
Molecular control of the step-by-step process of how the zebrafish body unfolds relies to some extent on maternally driven processes. These depend on proteins derived only from the egg, which are critical to embryonic development prior to the activation of the new embryo's own genome. In vertebrates, maternal gene products direct such essential processes as fertilization; the first cellular divisions of the embryo; and the head-to-tail arrangement of developing cells. The genes also control morphogenetic movement, the migration of cells to form the three-dimensional structure of the embryo.
In 1998 the Mullins lab embarked on a large-scale maternal-effect mutant screen, not previously performed in a vertebrate animal model. In addition to the 68 maternal mutations, through inbreeding studies, they also discovered five paternally derived mutations. Daniel S. Wagner, PhD, and Roland Dosch, PhD, both postdoctoral fellows in the Mullins lab, spent five-plus years each on this intensive research project.
"These maternal processes are well-studied in invertebrates, but not vertebrates," says Mullins. "Genetic screens have been extremely powerful in identifying key genes and understanding the processes involved." This collection of mutants pPage: 1 2 3 Related biology news :1
Contact: Karen Kreeger
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
. The search for a kinder, gentler chemotherapy2
. New survey reveals insights into unique relationship between mothers and pediatricians3
. Study shows impact of emotionally healthy fathers when mothers poor mental health affects children4
. Drug prevents chemotherapy-induced hearing loss, study finds5
. Living at home helps young mothers stay in school6
. Structure solved at Scripps shows how one human protein reduces potency of chemotherapy7
. ALL survivors bear genetic damage from life-saving chemotherapy8
. Scientist honored for studies of genetic influence on chemotherapy, tumor development9
. New York City study shows newborns more susceptible to pollution than their mothers10
. Gene therapy tested to protect bone marrow during chemotherapy11
. Researchers identify genetic markers to predict response to chemotherapy for colorectal cancer