Gene of the month - Lunatic Fringe

12 May 2012

Interview with

Kat Arney

Finally, keep your hair on, because our gene of the month is the rather wackily-named Lunatic Fringe. First discovered in fruit flies, the Fringe gene is involved in forming the edges of a fly's wings. Mammals - including mice and humans - actually have three different versions of the Fringe gene, called Manic Fringe, Radical Fringe and Lunatic Fringe, which are involved in the development of the limbs and other parts of the body.

In 2006, scientists discovered that inheriting two faulty copies of Lunatic Fringe causes severe problems with the development of the spine - a condition known as spondylocostal dysostosis, which comes under the banner of a number of hereditary spinal defects known as Jarcho-Levin syndrome. Although the name Lunatic Fringe sounds amusing, it's much less funny to families whose children have been born with the syndrome, so the Human Genome Organisation Gene Nomenclature Committee, or HUGO for short, have suggested it should be known as just LFNG. Less creative maybe, but probably also less upsetting.

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