Researchers have identified a gene that aids bone development when active in skin. Their findings are reported in the 08 April 2004 issue of Nature (Vol. 428, No. 6983, pp. 660-664).
Michael Karin and colleagues show that switching off the Ikka gene in skin leads to serious deformations of the skeleton and cranial bones in mice. The defects are so severe that the mice die shortly after birth. Switching off Ikka in bones has no such effect.
The protein encoded by Ikka has its action in the cell nucleus, and plays different developmental roles in different parts of the body. The team also work out which part of the protein is needed for certain types of tissue development.
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