A tumor-suppressing gene known as PTEN appears to also control development in immature animals.
Like many organisms, the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans pauses its development until conditions are right for growth. After worms hatch, they remain small and immature until they find food. Only after a worm eats do its cells start growing.
To figure out what genes lie behind the natural state of stalled development, Joel Rothman of the University of California, Santa Barbara and his colleagues searched through a collection of mutant C. elegans for worms that started growing before they had their first meal.
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