Navigation Links
Master gene controls healing of skin in fruit flies and mammals

University of California, San Diego biologists and their colleagues have discovered that the genetic system controlling the development and repair of insect cuticle--the outer layer of the body surface in insects--also controls these processes in mammalian skin, a finding that could lead to new insights into the healing of wounds and treatment of cancer.

The UCSD biologists' study, published April 15 in the journal Science identifies a master gene called grainyhead that activates wound repair genes in the cells surrounding an injury in the cuticle of a fly embryo. These wound repair genes then regenerate the injured patch of cuticle.

In a separate study published in the same issue of Science, a team of researchers led by Stephen Jane at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Melbourne, Australia report that, although insect cuticle and the outer layer of mammal skin are very different chemically, the grainyhead gene is also essential for normal skin development and wound repair in mice.

"The discovery that grainyhead-like factors are required for the response to injury opens up new avenues of research in the field of wound healing," said Kimberly Mace, the first author of the UCSD paper. "It also opens new avenues for cancer research, since many cancer cells activate genes normally involved in wound healing in order to kick start processes such as cell division and cell migration."

Mace, a former graduate student of biology professor William McGinnis, who led the UCSD team, became interested in the healing of insect cuticle when she noticed lesions in the cuticle of certain fruit fly mutants. She suspected that the lesions were scar tissue resulting from the failure of the body surface barrier to develop properly. Confirming her suspicions, the mutant embryos turned out to be much more permeable to a dye than normal embryos.

The group also showed that the genes active in the mutant flies' lesions were activated in normal flies in cell s surrounding a wound created with a sterile needle. The researchers then worked backward, using bioinformatics--computational analysis of DNA sequences--to identify grainyhead as the master gene that initiates the genetic chain reaction that results in cuticle repair. Wounds in mutant flies that lack the grainyhead gene fail to heal.

"The genes involved in cuticle repair are activated very quickly, within 30 minutes after injury," said Joseph Pearson, a graduate student working under McGinnis and a coauthor of the paper. "They are activated over many cell diameters, most strongly at the boundaries of the wound, suggesting that the grainyhead gene initiates the cuticle repair response after it receives an as-of-yet unidentified signal produced in cells adjacent to the injury."

In its study, Jane's team found that, like their fruit fly counterparts, mice lacking grainyhead have a much more permeable skin than normal mice and have deficient wound repair. Both groups point out in their papers that it is interesting that the regulatory mechanisms for development and repair of the surface barrier in insects and mammals have been conserved, given the differences in the molecular composition of insect cuticle and mammal skin.

"The proteins that link together to form the insect cuticle and stratum corneum--the outer layer of mammal skin--are completely different," says McGinnis. "So it is remarkable that flies and mammals share an ancient conserved pathway to construct and repair the body envelope that protects them from sharp edges and microbes, even though that body envelope is constructed of mostly different molecules."

In their paper, the UCSD researchers state that studying the wound response pathway in fruit flies, which are easy to manipulate genetically, may provide new insight into wound healing in mammals. For example, Mace points out that very little is known how wound tissue stops its growth behavior when the wound is healed. In a ddition, cancer cells evade this "stop" program, but how they do it is not well understood.


Source:University of California - San Diego

Related biology news :

1. Master regulatory gene found that guides fate of blood-producing stem cells
2. Master genetic switch found for chronic pain
3. Master planners in brain may coordinate other areas roles in cognitive tasks
4. Master regulatory gene of epithelial stem cells identified
5. Cooperation is key—a new way of looking at MicroRNA and how it controls gene expression
6. Scientists find that protein controls aging by controlling insulin
7. MicroRNA tweaks protein that controls early heart development
8. Scientists discover gene that controls speed of tuberculosis development
9. Gene controls whether fear is a factor
10. Salk researchers make fast strides towards understanding how our body controls walking
11. Robotic joystick reveals how brain controls movement
Post Your Comments:

(Date:11/11/2015)... 11, 2015   MedNet Solutions , an innovative SaaS-based ... research, is pleased to announce that it will be a ... event, to be held November 17-19 in ... live demonstrations of iMedNet , MedNet,s easy-to-use, ... iMedNet has been able to deliver time and cost ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... , Nov. 09, 2015 ... the addition of the "Global Law ... their offering. --> ) ... "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics Market 2015-2019" ... Research and Markets ( ) has ...
(Date:11/2/2015)... 2015  SRI International has been awarded a contract ... services to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) PREVENT Cancer ... expertise, modern testing and support facilities, and analytical instrumentation ... toxicology studies to evaluate potential cancer prevention drugs. ... Cancer Drug Development Program is an NCI-supported pipeline to ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... Nov. 30, 2015  AbbVie, is introducing Good ... on a daily routine for managing the life-long condition ... can affect the way the body absorbs it so ... a daily routine are important. The goal of the ... better manage their hypothyroidism by establishing a daily routine, ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... CA (PRWEB) , ... November ... ... Intelligence Company, today announced tighter software integration with MarkLogic, the Enterprise NoSQL ... organizations maximize information to drive change. , Smartlogic’s Content Intelligence capabilities provide ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/--  Mallinckrodt plc (NYSE: MNK ... it has closed the sale of its global contrast ... NYSE Euronext) in a transaction valued at approximately $270 ... and a total of approximately 1,000 employees spread across ... St. Louis area. This entire workforce and ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... MUMBAI , November 26, 2015 ... --> Accutest Research ... accredited Contract Research Organization (CRO), has ... Chase Cancer Center - Temple Health ... ,     (Photo: ) ...
Breaking Biology Technology: