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Head to tail: the molecules that tell you how to grow a backbone

Growing the right number of vertebrae in the right places is an important job – and scientists have found the molecules that act like ‘theatre directors’ for vertebrae genes in mice: telling them how much or how little to express themselves.

Edwina and her team were able to visualise the formation of the skeleton, using stains for bone (red) and cartilage (blue). Credit: Edwina McGlinn
Edwina and her team were able to visualise the formation of the skeleton, using stains for bone (red) and cartilage (blue). Credit: Edwina McGlinn

The finding may give insight into how the body-shapes of different species of animals evolved, since the molecules under scrutiny are present in a wide range of animals – ranging from fish to snakes to humans.

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