New insight into birth defect synpolydactyly
When there is a threat of disease during pregnancy, mothers produce less aggressive sons with more efficient immune systems, researchers at The University of Nottingham have discovered. The study provides the first evidence for a transgenerational effect on immune response based on environmental cues - with maternal perception of disease risk in the immediate environment
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Birth defects characterized by malformation of the limbs are relatively common.
New insight into one form of the birth defect synpolydactyly, where individuals have 1 or more digit (finger or toe) duplicated and 2 or more digits fused together, has now been provided by Stefan Mundlos and colleagues, at Universit?medizin Berlin, Germany, who studied a mouse model of the condition.
One form of synpolydactyly is caused by mutations in the HOXD13 gene. To understand how these mutations cause disease the authors analyzed mice carrying one of these mutations, Spdh/Spdh mice. Surprisingly, the protein generated by the mutated gene was found to have lost a function of the normal Hoxd13 protein and to have gained a new function. Specifically, the mutant protein was unable to facilitate normal levels of production of the soluble factor RA, and intrauterine treatment with RA restored normal digit formation in Spdh/Spdh mice. As RA was shown to normally suppress the generation of cells that produce and maintain cartilage, the loss-of-function mutated Hoxd13 therefore indirectly promotes the formation of cartilage. Importantly, further analysis indicated the mutated protein also directly induced the generation of cells that produce and maintain cartilage, whereas normal Hoxd13 did not. Thus, mutated Hoxd13 causes syndpolydactyly by inducing the generation of cells that produce and maintain cartilage, both directly and indirectly.
The scientists describe their work in this week’s Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In the study, the team shows how the loss of the protein HMGB2, found in the surface layer of joint cartilage, leads to the progressive deterioration of the cartilage that is the hallmark of osteoarthritis. “We
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Using a harmless virus to insert a corrective gene into mouse blood cells, scientists at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have alleviated sickle cell disease pathology. In their studies, the researchers found that the treated mice showed essentially no difference from normal mice. Although the scientists caution that applying the gene therapy to humans
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A worldwide group of scientists has created an infectious prion disease in a mouse model, in a step that may help unravel the mystery of this progressive disease that affects the nervous system in humans and animals. The research team, including Christina J. Sigurdson, D.V.M., Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology at the University of California,
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A possible new therapeutic target for pancreatic cancer, the most lethal form of human cancer, has been identified in the proteins whose DNA recipe comes from gene, “Seven-In-Absentia,” according to researchers at the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) 48th Annual Meeting, Dec. 13-17, 2008 in San Francisco. In their studies with the fruit fly,
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Researchers have unraveled crucial details of how aging causes broken bones to heal slowly, or not at all, according to study results published today in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. The research team also successfully conducted preclinical tests on a potential new class of treatments designed to “rescue” healing capability lost to aging.
Full Post: New understanding on how aging causes broken bones to heal slowly