Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Health

Cells Battle to the Death in the Developing Embryo

Survival of the fittest appears to govern the earliest days of an embryo's development.

By Jeff WheelwrightJanuary 29, 2014 10:53 PM
mouse-embryo.jpg
An 11-day-old mouse embryo. | Natalia Sinjushina & Evgeniy Meyke / Shutterstock

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Charles Darwin established the idea of competition between organisms to ensure the survival of the fittest. In July, researchers in Spain reported the same competition happening within an organism. During the early days of a mouse embryo’s development, cells with higher levels of a protein called Myc outdo cells expressing lower amounts of Myc. All the cells are healthy, emphasizes first author Cristina Clavería of the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares in Madrid. But after the cells come in contact, the “losers” die, donating their biochemical innards to their presumably fitter counterparts. “There’s communication between winners and losers, but which way the signal goes, we’re not sure,” she says. The contest ends after a week; at that time, Clavería predicts, surviving cells produce uniform (and higher) levels of Myc.

Myc is an important player in the growth of organisms and also is implicated in cancer, another unhealthy competition between cells. Perhaps, Clavería says, cell expansion driven by Myc sets the stage for a tumor.

[This article originally appeared in print as "Cell Battle to the Death."]

    3 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In