Researchers discover a way that animals keep their cells identical

Roundworms (Caenorhabditis elegans) with a disabled eri-1 gene can lose their ability to control repetitive DNA. In the absence of eri-1, even two age-matched siblings can look dramatically different. These differences are because of variable expression from high-copy DNA (green) but not from low-copy DNA (magenta) in the worms’ intestinal cells. In worms with a functional eri-1 gene, even multi-copy DNA is expressed uniformly in all animals. Credit: Antony Jose Cancers arise in skin, muscle, liver or other types of tissue when one cell becomes different from its neighbors. Although biologists have learned a lot about how tissues form during development, very little is known about how two cells of the same tissue stay identical for an animal’s entire lifetime. A University of Maryland research team is the first to…


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