A hippo in the head

August 19, 2011

Stem cells gone rampant cause brain tumors

In healthy larvae of Drosophila, a genus of fruit flies, the developing brain “knows” when it is big enough. Mutant larvae unable to produce the L(3)mbt protein lack this growth monitor. Deadly braintumors run rampant in their heads; these tumors are made up of rogue stem cells. A research team led by Constance Richter and Jürgen Knoblich of the IMBA has identified the source of this uncontrolled growth of stem cells. Without the L(3)mbt protein, certain DNA reads are notisolated and tumor-causing genes go wild. Similar mechanisms of excess are most likely at work inhuman brain tumors as well.

Illustration: In Drosophila, developing brains neural stem cells (blue) produce the many thousand neurons (green) of the adult central nervous system. A specialized set of stem cells forms directly from neuroepithelia (red) in the optic-lobe-anlagen to generate neurons for the visual system.

>>link to article on Nature Cell Biology

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