Understanding more about Notch signalling – molecular pathway underlying balance of cell growth and stem cell renewal
Building a healthy body depends on making new cells only when and where they’re needed, otherwise this can lead to cancer. Knowing when to grow and when to stop is controlled by a complex system of molecular signals known as the Notch pathway. To find out more about how Notch signalling works, researchers have been studying tiny nematode worms with faults in various components of the pathway and seeing how they affect cell growth. On the left is a normal worm gonad (the organ where eggs and sperm are made), with a small population of multiplying cells highlighted in green and non-proliferating cells in red. The other two organs are from worms with overactive Notch signalling, packed full of cells multiplying out of control. Notch signalling is also faulty in some human tumours, so discovering more about how this pathway works in worms could provide insights into new cancer treatments.
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