2 genes found to play crucial role in cell survival

February 4, 2008

New research suggests that two recently discovered genes are critically important for controlling cell survival during embryonic development.

The genes, called E2F7 and E2F8, are the least understood members of a family of genes that play a fundamental role in animal development. Members of this family are also involved in cancers of the breast, bladder, stomach and colon.

This animal study showed that complete loss of the two genes causes massive cell death and is lethal in developing embryos.

It also showed that the two genes prevent this cell death largely by suppressing the activity of another member of the family, called E2f1. This third gene is known to play an important role in triggering programmed cell death, or apoptosis, in embryos.

The findings by researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center are published in the Jan. 15 issue of the journal Developmental Cell, with an accompanying commentary.

“Until now, almost nothing was known about the function of these two genes in animals,” says principal investigator Gustavo Leone, an associate professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“Our study not only shows that both these genes are critical for embryonic development, but also how members of this gene family work together to regulate cell survival and proliferation.”

Leone and his colleagues used mice that were missing either E2f7 or E2f8, or both genes, and mice missing both genes and the E2f1 gene.

Their experiments showed that embryos survived, and massive cell death was prevented, if they had at least one copy (of the normal two) of either of the two genes.

When the two genes were entirely missing, however, massive cell death and other problems occurred that were lethal before birth. On the other hand, embryos that were completely missing both genes and missing the E2f1 gene, did not show the massive cell death, although they also died before birth. “This of course means that E2f7 and E2f8 are doing more than just regulating cell death, and we are now exploring new avenues of their function,” Leone says.

“Overall,” he says, “our findings indicate that these two genes are essential for embryonic development and for preventing widespread cell death, mainly by targeting the E2f1 gene.”

Source: Ohio State University Medical Center

Explore further: Altering RNA helicases in roundworms doubles their lifespan

Related Stories

Altering RNA helicases in roundworms doubles their lifespan

July 21, 2015

The things we do to extend our lives—quitting smoking, cutting back on carbs, taking up jogging —all have some impact on our longevity, if only just a little. But no matter how hard we work towards chasing the dream ...

Making sense of our evolution

July 13, 2015

The science about our our special senses - vision, smell, hearing and taste - offers fascinating and unique perspectives on our evolution.

Production of iPS cells: Discovery of the fifth element

July 8, 2015

Since 2006, research has succeeded in generating, from specialised adult cells, induced pluripotent cells (iPS cells), with huge potential applications, particularly for regenerative medicine. However, the process has still ...

Can gene editing provide a solution to global hunger?

July 6, 2015

According to the World Food Program, some 795 million people – one in nine people on earth – don't have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That will only get worse with the next global food crisis, predicted to ...

A triangular protein pump

July 6, 2015

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich researchers have elucidated the structure of a molecular machine with an atypical triangular shape that is involved in peroxisome biogenesis, and characterized its conformation in different ...

Recommended for you

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

Quantum Theory May Explain Wishful Thinking

April 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Humans don’t always make the most rational decisions. As studies have shown, even when logic and reasoning point in one direction, sometimes we chose the opposite route, motivated by personal bias or simply ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.