Story by Adam Hadhazy, Office of Engineering Communications
A study from Princeton researchers on fruit flies shows how, during the early stages of growth, a developing embryo must begin to make its own building blocks of DNA after it has exhausted a supply from its mother. The researchers are graduate student Yonghyun Song, professors Joshua Rabinowitz and Stanislav Shvartsman, and postdoctoral researcher Robert Marmion.
The study, published online July 25 in Developmental Cell, revealed that a mother fruit fly ultimately provides no more than half of the DNA building blocks needed by a rapidly dividing embryo. Those initial, maternal DNA precursors, the researchers further demonstrated, actually put the brakes on a vital enzyme that the embryo needs to crank out precursors all by itself. Thus, only after the mother’s influence has waned, can the embryonic fruit fly transition to self-sufficiency.
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