Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Early Worms
31 December 2014

Early Worms

The first few moments of a worm's life are a difficult time. Egg and sperm, which come together to create a new worm baby, are very different cells and their DNA is packaged up in distinctive ways. And the challenge is unpacking it and organising it all so that development can get started. This biological packaging material – proteins called histones – comes in various varieties, and special versions are put onto the DNA in eggs and sperm when they're made. Here we see the developing sperm inside a male worm, stained with fluorescent dyes that pick out different histones. Immature sperm are tightly packed together and stained pink due to one type of histone, but this is replaced with the green-stained version as they mature. These special histones could play an important role in shaping development, carrying extra information from mum and dad to the embryo.

Written by Kat Arney

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