Gene of the Month - Gremlin
And now, it's time for our Gene of the Month - and this time it's Gremlin. Sharing a name with the cute but havoc-wreaking creatures in the classic 80s film, Gremlin was first discovered in frog embryos in the late 90s, and versions have been found in other vertebrates including mice, chickens and humans. The protein made from the Gremlin gene interferes with molecules known as Bone Morphogenetic Proteins, which - as the name suggests - are involved in shaping bones as an animal develops in the womb.
Gremlin is known to be involved in shaping the bones of hands, paws and wings, and is also involved in the development of the complex network of tubes that make up the lungs and liver. It's also implicated, along with another gene called Noggin, in the shaping the bones of the skull, and there's also evidence that Gremlin can encourage the growth of cancer cells. Unfortunately there's no data on what happens if you get the gene wet or feed it after midnight.