Friday, August 18, 2006

 

Biologists Uncover Mechanisms That Shape Cells for Better Or Worse

Fruit-Fly Drosophila Egg Cell Polarity (Evolution Research)

In a landmark study, biologists at Florida State University have uncovered a specific genetic and molecular mechanism that causes cell polarity -- the asymmetric shape or composition critical to a cell's proper functioning. Their findings in fruit fly eggs may help to clarify how muscular dystrophy and some cancers develop in humans.

That's because many of the genes involved in the cell-to-cell communication that triggers the development of cell polarity in Drosophila oocytes (unfertilized fruit fly eggs) also are known players in the pathogenesis of those diseases.

The research performed by FSU Assistant Professor Wu-Min Deng and doctoral student John S. Poulton in the department of biological science could foster a better overall understanding of polarity and how it develops - and why it doesn't, sometimes with dire consequences -- in other types of cells and organisms.

Results from the FSU study are described in the August 14 2006 online edition of the journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) in the paper "Dystroglycan down-regulation links EGF receptor signaling and anterior-posterior polarity formation in the Drosophila oocyte" (Abstract). [Cancer]

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