We share nearly 60% of our genes and numerous functional similarities with fruit flies, so studying them can provide interesting insights into human disorders and diseases. In the microvilli – small finger-like projections on cells that help to absorb nutrients – of fruit flies’ kidney-like organs or tubules (one pictured highly magnified and falsely coloured), a protein called Fas2 aids the secretion of fluid. When researchers interrupted the function of Fas2, they saw that the length and organisation of the microvilli were affected, showing that the protein is important for keeping the microvilli stable and helping the overall function of the tubules. This research provides a view into what could happen in humans when microvilli become damaged, which is seen in conditions like coeliac disease and the rare congenital gut disorder Davidson’s disease.
Written by Katie Panteli
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