Wednesday, October 04, 2006

 

Cracking the egg: Unraveling our first transitions (Genes and Development)

Sexual reproduction is not necessarily sexy (especially when scientists start analyzing it), but it is fascinating. As we all know, the basics entail bringing together an egg and a sperm, a whole lot of cell division and growth, and sooner or later a young organism that carries a mix of genes from both parents. There are many startling events along the way, but one of the most fundamental and important is the transition from unfertilized egg to fertilized embryo.

Think about it: The former is and will remain an egg if left alone, while the latter has within it the means to unleash the dazzling cascade of events needed to create a viable organism. What's already in the egg that enables it to make the transition? How is it the same and how is it different across species? And what changes occur when the egg is fertilized? Scientists led by Drs Barbara Knowles (homepage) and Alexei Evsikov (homepage) at The Jackson Laboratory have certainly been thinking about this topic for years. A new paper in the journal Genes and Development presents significant new information about what is happening within a fully grown (pre-ovulatory) egg and some of the changes that occur during transition to the two-cell stage embryo.

Continued at "Cracking the egg"
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Based on the paper "Cracking the egg: molecular dynamics and evolutionary aspects of the transition from the fully grown oocyte to embryo" (Abstract) [Evolution]

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