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Down the road to skin ....

Down the road to skin . . .

Among the first genes to "turn on' in development, the most active are several that encode proteins making up the filaments that give structure to skin, report Thomas Sargent, Igor Dawid and colleagues at NICHD. "These keratin genes are the earliest tissue-specific gene expressed in Xenopus,' says Sargent. "And skin is the first organ to differentiate.'

Because these early keratin genes are expressed even in dissociated embryonic cells, they are not triggered by contact with other cells. Instead, the major means of differentiation seems to be suppression of gene activity. These keratin genes are turned off in the areas that develop into neural tissue, Sargent reports. In addition, they are inactivated by experimentally introduced contact with certain other embryonic cells. But even in the cells that become skin, by the time a tadpole develops into a frog, other genes take over their role. "No gene first turned on in the blastula . . . is also expressed in the adult,' Sargent says.
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Title Annotation:embryo development
Author:Miller, Julie Ann
Publication:Science News
Date:May 24, 1986
Words:164
Previous Article:Chemical basis of a biological clock.
Next Article:Embryonic start-up: mom's influence.
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