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Antenna on Cell Surface Is Key to Development and Disease

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posted on May, 18 2009 @ 09:24 PM
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Antenna on Cell Surface Is Key to Development and Disease


www.nytimes.com

Scientists have discovered that the single cilium on each cell receives signals that form neurons, sculpt the body and organize the brain. Cilia heal wounds and grow cells. When they malfunction, they help cause cancer. Damage to primary cilia is linked to kidney disease, obesity and failure of adult neuron development.
Largely ignored as vestigial, primary cilia are now pivotal players in the signaling that shape the fetus and assure normal adult cell growth.
(visit the link for the full news article)




posted on May, 18 2009 @ 09:24 PM
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First seen in flagella, tail-like whips in microorganisms, these tiny hairs have been found to control many cell functions across the evoltionary tree.


“Primary cilia are turning out to be a kind of signaling machine that no one had appreciated,” said Matthew Scott, a geneticist at Stanford Medical School. “It’s as if there was a shed out back with all sorts of weird machinery, and hardly anyone had ever looked in. But the farm can’t work without it.”


Multiple recent discoveries have revealed the microscopic architecture within each cilium that supports two-way movement of proteins up and down the cilium’s length. Molecular motors push particles along the cilia. These motor proteins are linked to the cilium’s outer envelope, so they can move material up and down the membrane itself.


More startling than the finding of this elaborate system was the discovery a few years later that traffic on the cilia highway includes the signals that switch on genes to drive development of the embryo. These signals are themselves proteins, like the highly important Sonic hedgehog.


At the simplest level, it appears that our development, even the life process itself is driven by mechanical and chemical processes that may be manipulated to cure or reverse conditions that devastate mankind.

jw



www.nytimes.com
(visit the link for the full news article)



 
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