Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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A Helping Hair

DYRK2 gene is vital for formation of normal cilia – hair-like projections on specialised cells – in mammals

23 September 2020

A Helping Hair

They look like little hairs. Their name even means eyelashes in Latin. But you won’t spot cilia with your naked eye. These microscopic projections are found on certain specialised cells and have a host of important functions, from moving fluids and sensing signals, to helping embryos develop correctly. Now researchers probe how cilia themselves develop, focusing specifically on DYRK2, a gene already implicated in embryo development in roundworms. Deleting this gene in mice interfered with the transport of signalling proteins vital for proper embryo development. Notably, the absence of DYRK2 also caused cilia to form abnormal shapes, as shown by scanning electron microscopy (pictured, right), when compared to cilia in normal mouse embryos (left). DYRK2 is therefore vital for the formation of cilia in mammals and further investigation could help us better understand how embryos develop.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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