The same family of transcription factors directs the repair of epidermal wounds in mice and flies, two research teams report in this week's Science. Their unexpected findings may help clarify the signal pathways that initiate outer barrier repair in a range of organisms.

"Until now, there was no reason to suspect common genetic control pathways in the repair of mammal skin and insect cuticle, because the proteins they are built with are completely different," coauthor William McGinnis of the University of California at San Diego told The Scientist.

Little was known about the signaling pathways that direct repair of the surface epithelium, McGinnis said. He and his colleagues investigated the genes Ddc and pale, which encode DOPA decarboxylase and tyrosine hydroxylase, respectively, in late-stage fly embryos. Both enzymes catalyze quinone production to cross-link proteins and chitins during cuticle formation.

Using in situ hybridization, the researchers found Ddc...

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