School of Life Sciences

Gene lets animals tell left from right

Angus Davison, Associate Professor and Reader in Evolutionary Genetics, has found a gene that defines left and right during embryonic development in snails and frogs.

Animals generally look symmetrical, but internal organs are often positioned asymmetrically. To find out how embryos first define left and right at the molecular level, Angus and his colleagues compared the DNA of pond snails that had shells with clockwise or anti-clockwise spirals. They found that formin, a cell-structure protein, was consistently linked to spiral direction and is expressed early in snail development, showing asymmetry even in two-cell embryos.

The team treated frog embryos (Xenopus leaves) with anti-formin drugs, and found that 13% developed an organ on the opposite side to its normal position, suggesting that formin also coordinates this process in frogs.

The study is published in Current Biology.

(Story from Nature

Posted on Friday 4th March 2016

School of Life Sciences

University of Nottingham
Medical School
Queen's Medical Centre
Nottingham NG7 2UH

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