About Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

Process Of Embryogenesis Still A Mystery

by Bidita Debnath on October 8, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Font : A-A+

 Process Of Embryogenesis Still A Mystery

In the very first days of an embryo's existence, some genes get activated.

Once they have accomplished their task, they are shut down forever, unlike most of our genes, which remain active throughout our lives. EPFL scientists have unveiled part of this strange mechanism. The same process, accidentally initiated later in life, could be responsible for many kinds of cancer. The discovery is described in a recent article in the journal Cell Reports.

Advertisement

The researchers identified a group of proteins that play a key role in this phenomenon. They bind to a DNA sequence near the gene, and substitute one DNA element for another, essentially "marking" the sequence. This phenomenon is known as "methylation." Once the marker is in place, the cellular machinery recognizes the sign and maintains the gene in a dormant state.

"It's an extremely elegant mechanism. The genes are needed right at the beginning of embryonic development, but rather than deactivate them every time a cell divides, the job is done in one fell swoop, once the genes are no longer required," explains EPFL professor Didier Trono, who co-authored the article. "This process is also involved in the control of viral sequences, which make up almost half of our genome, and must be inactivated very early in development."
Advertisement

This gene-silencing mechanism, which normally takes place in a several-day-old embryo, can also occur accidentally later in life. In many cancer cells, certain genes have been marked by methylation; they have been silenced. If, for example, the gene responsible for controlling cell division has been methylated, the consequences are all too easy to imagine. "The embryonic process, which is designed to silence certain genes, can be fortuitously reactivated, leading to the formation of tumor cells."

It is still not understood why the process stops after the first days of embryogenesis, even though many of the active proteins continue to be expressed in the cell, says Trono. "If we can figure out how this cellular clock works, then we would perhaps be able to understand how the mechanism is reactivated later, leading to the development of cancer."

Source: Eurekalert
Advertisement

Advertisement
News A-Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
What's New on Medindia
Are Menopause Symptoms Troubling You?: Try these Options
Vaccination  And Counter  Measures Against  Monkeypox
Indian Railways Special Concession on Health Grounds
View all
News Archive
Date
Category
Advertisement
News Category

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Most Popular on Medindia

Post-Nasal Drip Color Blindness Calculator Blood Donation - Recipients Hearing Loss Calculator Iron Intake Calculator Nutam (400mg) (Piracetam) Find a Doctor Calculate Ideal Weight for Infants Vent Forte (Theophylline) Blood - Sugar Chart

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2022

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use