Gene of the month - Mind Bomb
And finally, our gene of the month is Mind Bomb. First described in zebrafish, fish with faults in their Mind Bomb gene have big problems with developing a nervous system or muscles. And in their ears - yes, fish do have them - they have ten times as many sensory hair cells as would be expected, these are the cells responsible for picking up vibrations around them. They also twice as many nerve cells in their ears as normal fish. In 1998, Dr Julian Lewis and his team at the London Research Institute figured out that Mind Bomb must be playing an important role in the Notch signalling pathway, which helps to tell cells what fate to adopt, or what job to do.
As you might expect, there are versions of Mind Bomb in a host of other organisms, including mammals, where it's involved in making sure the brain and nervous system develop properly. Earlier this year, scientists showed that Mind Bomb also plays a role in the adult mouse brain, and is essential for helping to create long-term memories. Mind Bomb is also the name of a pretty lethal cocktail made with pure alcohol of the kind you would find in a molecular biology lab. Don't try this one at home!