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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Video: Giant Bubbles Protect Fish From Scoliosis
4 March 2013 9:00 am
Sea squirts, fish, and mammals don't look much alike, but glimpse at their embryos and you probably couldn't tell them apart. Among other similarities, all sport a tubelike structure stretching from head to tail—the notochord—that serves as a backbone, before being replaced by the spine. In the center of the notochord there are unusual cells filled with huge bubblelike structures called vacuoles that have puzzled scientists for decades. By making movies of living zebrafish embryos, researchers are now able to show how these notochord vacuoles start off as small bubbles, then fuse together and finally inflate until they fill up the cell (as seen above). Getting rid of the vacuoles using genetic tricks produced dwarf embryos that grew up to develop kinked spines, which would be the equivalent to human scoliosis. Scoliosis is a spine deformity of unknown cause that affects 2% of the adult population. In the new study, published today in The Journal of Cell Biology, the team suggests that the notochord vacuoles act as an inflatable scaffold to build a straight spine and that zebrafish could be a good model system to study human scoliosis.
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