Navigation Links
To have or not to have ribs (a vertebrate story)

Like all vertebrates, snakes, mice and humans have in common a skeleton made of segments, the vertebrae. But a snake has between 200-400 ribs extending from all vertebrae, from the neck to the tail-end, whereas mice have only 13 pairs of ribs, and humans have 12 pairs, in both cases making up the ribcage. In the latest issue of Developmental Cell(*), researchers from the Instituto Gulbenkian de Cincia, in Portugal, reveal that, contrary to what was thought, making ribs is not the default state for vertebrates, but is actually an active process of balancing the activities of a remarkable class of genes - the Hox genes.

It was thought that the rib less region of the mouse embryo was the result of a rib-inhibiting programme, driven by Hox10 genes. Indeed, previous studies, in which Hox10 genes were inactivated in the embryo, generated mice with extra ribs. However, by forcing another class of Hox genes (Hox6) to be activated in future rib-less regions of the mouse embryo, Moises Mallo and his team bred mice that also have extra ribs, both in the neck area, and from just after the rib cage, all the way down to the tail, resembling a snake-like skeleton.

'It was an extraordinary, and clear-cut result', says Mallo, 'suggesting that these two groups of Hox genes balance each other out: one actively promotes rib formation to produce the thoracic region, while the other blocks this activity in the lumbar region. Our results have unveiled this balance.'

The researchers went on to unpick the genes involved in this process, and came up with yet another surprising finding: that the whole process relies on first hitting so-called muscle genes in the embryo, which then provide signals to switch on the 'rib' genes to make both ribs and muscle, in a coordinated process.

According to Mallo, 'Our findings reveal a more complicated process than we would have imagined, but one that makes perfect sense, from a functional and evolutionary point of view: it is no good to make ribs without muscle, so, in the embryo, the production of both ribs and their associated muscles is under the control of a single and coordinated mechanism.


Contact: Ana Godinho
Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia

Related biology news :

1. Dartmouth researchers find the root of the evolutionary emergence of vertebrates
2. Scientists find 245 million-year-old burrows of land vertebrates in Antarctica
3. Genome sequence of small marine creature sheds light on vertebrate origins
4. Unheard of life history for a vertebrate
5. Ancient marine invertebrate diversity less explosive than thought
6. Digital zebrafish embryo provides the first complete developmental blueprint of a vertebrate
7. New molecular insight into vertebrate brain development
8. The evolutionary foundation of genomic imprinting in lower vertebrates
9. Singapore scientists join international study of 10,000 vertebrates genomes
10. Tool use in an invertebrate: The coconut-carrying octopus
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
To have or not to have ribs (a vertebrate story)
(Date:10/29/2015)... Connecticut , October 29, 2015 ... a biometric authentication company focused on the growing ... smart wallet announces that StackCommerce, a leading marketplace ... be featuring the Wocket® smart wallet on StackSocial ... NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or the "Company"), a biometric ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... October 27, 2015 Munich, ... Gaze Mapping technology (ASGM) automatically maps data from mobile ... Glasses , so that they can be quantitatively ... Munich, Germany , October 28-29, 2015. ... data from mobile eye tracking videos created with ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... LAS VEGAS , Oct. 26, 2015 ... an innovator in modern authentication and a founding member ... launch of its latest version of the Nok Nok™ ... to use standards-based authentication that supports existing and emerging ... Suite is ideal for organizations deploying customer-facing applications that ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... and PETACH TIKVAH, Israel , Nov. ... BCLI ), a leading developer of adult stem cell ... Brainstorm Cell Therapeutics Ltd., has been awarded an additional grant ... of the Chief Scientist (OCS). This grant, the second this ... 2015 activities to approximately $1.8 million (approximately NIS7 million).  ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... , Nov. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/--  Mallinckrodt plc ... announced today that it has closed the sale of ... to Guerbet (GBT- NYSE Euronext) in a transaction valued ... four manufacturing facilities and a total of approximately 1,000 ... the St. Louis area. This ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... November 27, 2015 ... popularity of companion diagnostics is one of ... market with pharmaceutical companies and diagnostic manufacturers ... tests. . --> ... report on global cancer biomarkers market spread ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 26, 2015 ... device company specializing in imaging technologies, announced today that it ... as part of the Horizon 2020 European Union Framework Programme ... a large-scale clinical trial in breast cancer. , ... , --> --> The ...
Breaking Biology Technology: