Wednesday, July 22, 2020

DNA of a Mutant Zebrafish May Reveal More on Spine Evolution

A Duke University graduate student recently made a discovery that may give insight into the evolution of spines, as well as enhance the study of human spines. Brianna Peskin found that a single mutation in a zebrafish’s DNA sequence, more specifically a single letter change, led to the spine’s developmental issues. The embryos, therefore, do not develop in the same way, leaving their adult spines looking and working differently than normal.

When this information was presented to other scientists, several noticed the similarities between the mutant spines and ancestral spines of older bony fishes. While they are no longer prominent and are now merely results of mutations, these particular spines may give insight into the evolution of the spine, not only in zebrafish, but in humans as well.

The mutant spines present similar factors that are found in children with scoliosis. Further research on this topic may bring more to light regarding the development of human spines and how they may become mutated. The evolution of a zebrafish spine may just have the answers scientists need to help humans born with spine developmental issues.


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  1. This article was very interesting to me as I suffered from a mild version of scoliosis. Sometimes I get this back pains that are dreadful. I wonder if this mutation is also found in other spine disorders such as kyphosis. With this new information presented in the article I'm hoping doctors can prevent the development of scoliosis at early stage.

  2. In reading the article, I really appreciated the introduction to the project, "...started the project during her first-year rotation in Michel Bagnat’s cell biology lab and 'kinda kept coming back to it'...”
    Being that the fish spine in question's usefulness in respects to it's comparability to the human spine was heavily doubted prior, the background of the discovery is so interesting to me! A small idea held by one person can become a scientific discovery with enough research and findings, and this stands as a great example of that