Scientists Make Genetic Discoveries About Limb Development07/03/13
WEDNESDAY, July 3 (HealthDay News) -- Thousands of sequences
that control genes are active in the development of human limbs, a
new study says.
The findings don't determine the exact genetic mechanisms that
control development of limbs, but do provide the first genome-wide
view of candidates to analzye, the researchers said.
"We now have a parts list that may account for these biological changes," study senior author James Noonan, an associate professor of genetics at the Yale School of Medicine, said in a university news release.
He and his colleagues compared gene regulatory sequence activity
that occurs in humans, rhesus monkeys and mice during limb
development in the womb. While activity was generally similar in
all three species, certain regulatory sequences were active only in
The study was published online July 3 in the journal
Noonan plans to transfer some of gene regulatory elements
specific to humans into mice to see what aspects of human limb
development they may control.
"It has been difficult to understand how human traits evolved, because we didn't have any idea where the important genetic changes might be," Noonan said. "Now we do, and we have the experimental tools to determine what biological effects these changes may have. Our study also provides a roadmap for understanding other human-specific traits that arise during development, such as increased brain size and complexity."
The March of Dimes explains
how a baby grows.
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