Study highlights timing of gene expression in mutations such as cancer

10/31/2013 - 00:00

A new study by Weill Cornell Medical College scientists reveals a mechanism through which the expression of genes is controlled — a finding that highlights genetic mutations that can impair the timing of gene expression. Such mutations can affect the co-ordination of key events that are required for stepwise development of an organism, and can also give rise to cancer by turning on genes at the wrong time.

The study, published October 29 in the open access journal PLOS Biology, analyzes how the timing of gene expression is regulated in the notochord, the evolutionary and developmental precursor of the backbone. The notochord is the main feature that sets humans, mice, sea squirts and related animals (collectively known as chordates) apart from flies, worms and mollusks, and is essential for their development.