New Delhi: For normal birth or physical development of animals, regulation of their size, shape, and number of organs is very critical when embryo is developing. Researchers are trying to understand mechanisms that regulate this process.
A team of researchers led by Dr Ramkumar Sambasivan at the Bangalore-based Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (InStem) has shown how a genetic switch controls development of organs and body plan of animals.
The team used mouse model for this study and has found that when a gene called Tbx6 was mutated in mouse embryos, it led to development of five spinal cords instead of one seen in normal embryos. The extra spinal cords were formed at the expense of a tissue, which in normal course would have given rise to muscles and skeleton, according to results of the study published in journal Development.
“The novel observation in mutants highlighted the important role of Tbx6 and led us to investigate the connection between spinal cord and muscle-skeleton development,” explained Alok Javali, a member of the research team.
Earlier studies had shown that during embryonic development of vertebrates, the axial growth is contributed by a small number of stem cells called neuro-mesoderm progenitors (NMPs). These cells generate spinal cord (neural tissue) as well as muscle-skeleton system (mesodermal tissue). However, it was not clear how NMPs with dual potential end up making a particular choice.