Friday, November 25, 2011

Protein Enhancers and Finger Development

Human Hand

Researchers have discovered a new genetic mechanisms that influences and directs the formation of fingers in humans. As it turns out, in this case, genes only play a background role as proteins direct the formation of our digits. It was previously thought that these protein mechanisms originally did nothing, as is common within DNA. However, it was found that these genes trigger the activation of a series of proteins that then direct the formation of the fingers. These seven proteins act as enhancers which coordinate the development of the digits. In embryonic development, the gene causes the DNA strand to fold in a certain way that allows all seven of the enhancing proteins to come in contact. It is then that these proteins direct finger development. If any one of these proteins is missing, then finger development will be stunted or malformed. The more proteins that are missing, the greater the degree of malformation. The flexibility of this gene mechanism has a very wide range of implications and mutations. This same mechanism controls the formation and expression of digits in the single-toed Horse and the two-toed Ostrich as well as the human hand. (Article Link)

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