Gene of the month - Unkempt

12 October 2014

Interview with

Kat Arney

Kat - And finally it's time for our gene of the month, and this time it's looking a bit scruffy - it's Unkempt. Discovered in September this year in the developing photoreceptor nerves in the fruit fly's eye, Unkempt - along with another newly identified gene called Headcase - help to control how the developing nerve cells become specialised into particular roles in vision. Problems with the timing of this process can lead to brain disorders such as epilepsy or autism, but until recently very little was known about the genes that control it. Unkempt and headcase are the first parts of this pathway to be discovered, but there are undoubtedly more. And it's not just flies - the researchers also found that the mammalian version of Unkept is active in the developing eye of a mouse pup in the womb, as well as in developing brain cells, suggesting it might be doing a similar job there too.

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