Gene of the month - Toddler

10 April 2014

Interview with

Kat Arney

Kat - And now, it's time for our Gene of the Month - and this time it's Toddler.  Officially known as Apela, Toddler is a new addition to the genetic canon, having only been discovered earlier this year. It was identified in zebrafish, and plays a vital role in very early development, promoting the movement of cells as a fish embryo transforms from a tiny football of cells into a more folded structure with a head and tail. Without Toddler, cells move sluggishly, resulting in embryos with small hearts or no heart at all.

Researchers had thought they were aware of pretty much all the genes involved in early development, so Toddler's appearance was a surprise. It had gone under the radar for so long as the protein encoded by the gene is very small, and scientists simply hadn't noticed it. It's possible that there may be a wealth of other tiny genes running around out there, waiting to be discovered.

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