Embryonic cells battle it out against each other during the early stages of mammalian development with weaker cells being eliminated by their stronger counterparts, a new study conducted by researchers at Spain's Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC) reveals.
The work is published today in the prestigious journal Nature
.This phenomenon, termed cell competition, occurs in a defined time window, between days 3 and 7 of mouse development. During this period all embryonic cells compete with each other, as explained by Dr. Cristina Claveria, first author of the study, and Dr. Miguel Torres, director of this work and Head of the Department of Cardiovascular Development and Repair at CNIC.
"Thanks to cell competition the developing organism optimizes itself by selecting the cells theoretically more capable of supporting vital functions throughout the life of the new individual," says Dr. Claveria. According to the authors, this would be particularly important in long-lived organisms, like humans, where the functionality of their tissues must be maintained throughout a long life.Dr. Miguel Torres also explains that when cell competition is prevented, cells that normally would have lost the battle now become able to contribute to the new organism: "We think, however, that this organism will probably be less capable than the one which would have been formed under normal circumstances. In what sense will it be less adequate is a matter of great interest that we will address in the coming years".