April 14, 2024 2:14 pm
Creating a six-legged mouse for the first time

In Portugal, a team of scientists has created a unique 6-legged mouse embryo with an extra pair of hind legs instead of external genitalia. Moisés Mallo, a biologist at the Gulbenkian Institute of Sciences in Oerias, and his colleagues have been studying the receptor protein called Tgfbr1, which plays a crucial role in embryonic development.

The Tgfbr1 gene codes for a protein called transforming growth factor beta type 1 receptor, which is involved in cellular responses like cell growth and division. Mutations in this gene can increase the risk of skin cancer. The researchers found that by stopping the activity of the Tgfbr1 gene in mouse embryos during pregnancy, they could study its effects on spinal cord development.

In their study, the team discovered that Tgfbr1 dictates whether structures develop into genitals or legs. They found that inactivating the protein can alter the activity of other genes, resulting in mice with extra legs and no external genitalia. The researchers plan to investigate how Tgfbr1 and related genes affect other systems, such as cancer metastasis, and whether similar processes occur in reptiles with double penises.

The embryos used in the study were collected from mice aged 3-6 months. The research team dissected the embryos and analyzed them further without distinguishing between male and female embryos since their external genitalia do not differ. Further research will focus on understanding the broader implications of the Tgfbr1 gene in development and disease.

Overall, this study represents a significant breakthrough in our understanding of embryonic development and could pave the way for future studies on genetic engineering for medical purposes.

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