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Scientists uncover evolutionary keys to common birth disorders
Date:1/14/2009

ators at Boston University, Drs. John Finnerty and Maureen Mazza. The research team performed a battery of evolutionary analyses on 46 Msx proteins from a diverse collection of animals, ranging from sponges to humans. This analysis identified human sequence variants in Msx likely to underlie disease, and indicated why mutations in the same gene can lead to either orofacial clefting or ectodermal dysplasias.

These clinical insights were gleaned from work demonstrating that certain portions of the Msx proteins have remained constant over extremely long periods of time (>600 million years) while other Msx protein modules had duplicated and then subsequently diverged within the duplicated Msx sister genes, a previously unrecognized avenue for the evolution of morphological innovation. These observations will help to prioritize future clinical and functional research on these disease mutations. An outgrowth of these insights was the realization that the highly conserved protein modules that make up the Msx protein help to define a class of animal specific master control genes that each go on to specifically pattern the body plan of all modern animals.


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Contact: Jennifer Kelly
jkelly@forsyth.org
617-892-8602
Forsyth Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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