Snail belongs to the extensively studied family of transcription factors. The Snail factors are known to control the transition of the epithelium to a mesenchyme state in cancer. They are thought to play a role in controlling tumor invasion.
Jacqueline Kim Dale, Ph.D., formerly a Senior Research Associate at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, and Olivier Pourquié, Ph.D., Stowers Institute Investigator and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, have demonstrated that Snail is expressed in a cyclic manner during the formation of the vertebral precursors in the mouse and chick embryo.
The findings were published in the journal Developmental Cell. The study tells us that the genes governing many cellular properties are present downstream of the segmentation clock, the mechanism that controls the formation of the vertebral column.
The findings bridge the gap between the morphogenesis of the tissue that generates the vertebrae and the periodic production of their precursors. Various studies would help in appreciating their function in embryonic development. In conclusion the researchers said that by having a through insight of the function and development one can also develop an alternative mechanism in case of their dysfunction in cancer.