Scientists Accidently Create Mice With Long And Short Tails

Posted: Jan 18 2019, 8:38am CST | by , Updated: Jan 18 2019, 8:47am CST, in Latest Science News


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Scientists Accidently Create Mice with Long and Short Tails
Credit: Robinton et al. - Developmental Cell

The study offers new insight into some of the key aspects controlling the development of tails in mice.

Researchers studying mouse development have accidentally created mice with unusually long and unusually short tails. They reveal that the process is to some extent influenced by a gene called Lin28 which was already known to have a role in regulating body size and metabolism.

Genetic mechanism that controls the development of tail in mice is important for better understanding of evolution. It also has implications for understanding what happens when developmental pathways become abnormal and are not properly regulated.

"The same regulatory networks that control mechanisms regulating how a body pattern is formed are often coopted for other developmental processes," said co-author in of the study Moisés Mallo from Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in Lisbon, Portugal. “Studying these networks can give us relevant information for understanding other developmental, or even pathological, processes."

The conclusion is based on the results of two separate studies. One group of researchers was focused on the Lin28 -driven cancer in mice. They were surprised to find that these mice had super long tails and more vertebrae. The other group was studying a gene called Gdf11, which is associated with triggering development of the tail during embryonic stage. Researchers found that mice with Gdf11 mutations had tails that were shorter and thicker than those of regular mice.

“They also contained a fully grown neural tube inside, as opposed to a normal tail that is essentially made of vertebrae. We were able to pinpoint the Lin28 and Hox13 genes as key regulators of tail development downstream from Gdf11.” Mallo said.

Genes are believed to be the foundation of life. But the underlying mechanisms and how genes determine characteristic have so far been a bit of mystery to science. A single gene is not linked to only one physical characteristic. Genes can control many traits and therefore complex networks of interaction. The new study uncovers a genetic network involving Gdf11, Lin28 and Hox13 genes controlling axial progenitor activity in the tail bud.

"There are also important implications in this research for understanding evolution," said Daisy Robinton, a researcher at Harvard and lead author of the study from Daley's lab. "Anterior-posterior axis elongation is an important feature in bilateral animals, and natural selection has created a variety of tail lengths to suit different evolutionary pressures. Until now, little was known about how length is controlled and how the manipulation of genetics can impact morphogenesis."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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