It has been discovered that a fruit fly and a Hollywood star like Brad Pitt’s forelock of hair have a lot in common. They are both handled on a genetic level by a specific cancer protein.
What does the main character (Tyler Durden) of the movie Fight Club and a fruit fly have that can be termed common ground. Well, Brad Pitt and a fruit fly both have a front cowlick (a curl of hair on the forehead) that share a common biological profile.
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The study was led by researchers from Michigan State University. And this study got published in the current issue of Scientific Reports.
Those cute and curious hair patterns as evinced by cowlicks have a tumor suppressant gene behind them. The polarization is evident in the cowlicks of both humans and flies.
On a larger level, this phenomenon is seen in case of the feathers of avian species and the scales of piscean species. At the cellular level though they are regulated by the cancer protein termed the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor protein.
These are the traditional biological guards of our cells that rectify the process of microscopic division. Also DNA regeneration and cell autophagy occurs via these protectors.
They are the reason cancer remains a distant enemy and seldom invades the healthy organism. In a routine examination of fruit flies, this cancer protein was found in the polarity genes of the tiny critters.
The fruit fly or Drosophila has the retinoblastoma protein in its biological makeup. This protein acts as a sentinel upon the activity of the oncogenes. These are genes that can cause cancer.
Also the cancer protein controls cell migration which plays a role in cancer formation. The majority of cells in our body show polarity of function. These functions include nutrient absorption in the GIT, platelet action for wound repair and the cowlick pattern in hairstyles.
The polar dichotomy is displayed at the front and rear of each cell. It is across this difference that the migration process occurs in the first place. When the body contracts cancer, the metastasis ensures that this orderly migration becomes haphazard.
The result is total chaos and out-of-control cellular division. The cells have gone wild and disorderly. A proper understanding of this phenomenon may lend vital clues that may be used in the future to fight cancer.
Fruit flies are the ideal critters to study. They are actually like little people with wings attached to them. Also whereas the famous and fit actor, Brad Pitt may be evolutionary way ahead of the humble fruit fly, there is an iota of similarity between the two.
It is this fact that may hold some of the fascinating secrets of the extreme genetic complexity found in nature (both human and animal).