July 21, 2009

Of Mice and Men: Genetic Toggle Switch

Guess what? Mice are in the T1 news!

Science Daily reports, "Discovery Of Genetic Toggle Switch Inches Closer To Possible Diabetes Cure" Key words, Inches & Possible. Missing word: Mouse.

The readers diagest vesion is they find that, "the pancreas and biliary system by concluding both organs share a common cellular ancestry in the early mouse embryo." They also find a switch that makes one or the other.

Good to see the mice back in the news, kinda, sorta, maybe...

"With this study showing us that turning one gene on or off in a mouse embryo instructs a cell to become pancreatic or biliary, now we'll see if that same gene, Sox17, can be used to direct an embryonic stem cell to become a biliary cell instead of a pancreatic cell. This might be used one day to replace a diseased pancreas or bile duct in people," said Dr. Wells.

The study explains that Sox17 initially works in conjunction with two other genes (the transcription factors Pdx1 and Hes1) to decide which organ fate ventral foregut progenitor cells will take. Researches demonstrated that Sox17's key role begins when the mouse embryo is 81/2 days old. If Sox17 toggles one way, with its expression repressed by its interaction with Hes1, then Pdx1 more or less takes over to prompt formation of the ventral pancreas. If Sox17 toggles the other way to increases its expression, the gene helps set off formation of the biliary system.

Oh and the baboons are looking for press too: Previously Unseen Effects Of Protein Buildup In Diabetic Baboons' Pancreases Found

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