Mutation-disease link masked in zebrafish | Science News

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Mutation-disease link masked in zebrafish

Disparity in methods complicates quest to figure out gene’s job

By
11:00am, July 13, 2015
zebrafish

GENE SCENE  Zebrafish experiments that didn’t go as planned may help researchers find genes that can fill in for others in a pinch.

Zebrafish can find a way to compensate for a mutated gene, but artificial methods of inactivating the same gene are not so readily overcome, a new study suggests.

These findings, reported July 13 in Nature, add fuel to a technical debate among researchers about how to tell what a gene does in an organism.

An organism’s alternate strategy to compensate for a mutated gene can mask the gene’s absence. Zebrafish possess such a workaround for a mutation in a gene involved in blood vessel development, the new research finds. But fish with a normal copy of the gene can’t cope when researchers artificially block protein production from the same gene. Blocking protein production ought to have the same effect as a genetic mutation, but the fish handle the challenges differently, the researchers found.

If the same mechanisms that allow zebrafish to compensate for their defective

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