Study Identifies Protein Complex Critical in Rapid Embryogenesis

December 11, 2003

Tags: Orr-Weaver LabEvolution + DevelopmentGenetics + Genomics

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — For scientists who study embryonic development, insects, amphibians and marine invertebrates provide a unique window on the early stages of an embryo’s life. These organisms differ from higher life forms by having a simpler system for cell division, but it’s a system on fast forward: The embryos receive a maternal care package that permits their DNA replication and chromosome segregation to go into overdrive.

In a paper published this week in the journal Genes and Development, scientists at Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research identify a complex of three proteins crucial for normal development in this system and speculate that these proteins also may be found in other organisms, including humans.

“These findings define a complex of proteins that plays the critical regulatory role in controlling the rapid division cycles needed for embryogenesis,” says Whitehead scientist Terry Orr-Weaver, a lead author on the study.


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