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Examination of a cave-dwelling fish finds a possible genetic link to human disorders
Date:4/3/2014

ng how genes are behaving differently on the right versus the left sides, we hope to discover why many craniofacial alterations are more severe or present on only one side of the face in humans," says Gross.

Researchers are now narrowing in on the precise genes associated with these cranial abnormalities, with indications that two genes previously shown to be associated with cleft palate in humans, bone morphogenetic protein number four (BMP4) and transforming growth factor beta family member 3 (TGFB3), may similarly be involved in natural forms of bone asymmetry.

Previous research discovered that the gene that causes red hair and pale skin in humans was the same gene that caused the albino-like cavefish to have less pigmentation than the surface-dwelling species.

Funding for the research was supported by a federal grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health.

Building a Family Pedigree

The researchers bred the cave fish with the surface-dwelling fish, and then intercrossed the hybrid offspring. Some members of this family pedigree resembled the albino qualities of the cave-dwelling fish but had a perfectly well-developed eye. Others demonstrated the dark pigmentation qualities of the surface-dwelling parent, but had a very small eye.

"We can make progress towards understanding the genetic origin of several analogous human disorders by expanding the repertoire of model systems represented by lab mice, zebrafish and so forth," explains Gross. "Many techniques and technologies have been developed in these powerful model systems, however they're extremely inbred. As a result, an inbred model system is not going to enable us to understand how and why craniofacial abnormalities evolve in nature. We can use the blind Pachn cave-dwelling fish to inform unresolved questions, such as how and why asymmetric craniofacial malformations occur in humans."


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Contact: Dawn Fuller
dawn.fuller@uc.edu
513-556-1823
University of Cincinnati
Source:Eurekalert  

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