Scientists identify 2 genes that play key role in cell survival

February 5th, 2008 - 1:36 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Feb 5 (ANI): Researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Centre have discovered two genes that play a critical role in cell survival during embryonic development.

The study revealed that two genes known as E2F7 and E2F8 play a key role in animal development and absolute loss of these genes causes massive cell death and is fatal in developing embryos.

The study led by Gustavo Leone, an associate professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics at Ohio States Comprehensive Cancer Centre was conducted using a mice model that was missing E2f7 or E2f8, or both genes, and mice missing both genes and the E2f1 gene that plays a vital role in triggering programmed cell death, or apoptosis, in embryos.

The researchers found that E2F7 and E2F8 averted this cell death by suppressing the action of E2f1 gene.

Until now, almost nothing was known about the function of these two genes in animals, said Leone.

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, he added.

The findings also revealed 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, he said

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.

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

The findings are published in the Jan. 15 issue of the journal Developmental Cell. (ANI)

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