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Scientists crack genetic secrets of human egg
Michigan State University ^ | 05 September 2006 | Staff (press release)

Posted on 09/06/2006 10:20:53 AM PDT by PatrickHenry

The human egg’s ability to transform into a new life, or into new cells that may someday save lives, is well documented. The mystery lies in the mechanics – in how a single cell can transform so nimbly.

Scientists at Michigan State University report this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they have identified genes unique to the human egg. The identification opens the way to understanding these genes’ functions, which may lead to solving problems from infertility to degenerative diseases.

“What’s in the egg to have that power?” asked Jose Cibelli, MSU professor of physiology and animal science. “Some of those genes are responsible for the magic trick that the egg has. This paper takes a peek at what genes are in the egg waiting to make these changes.”

Combined with sperm, the egg divides and organizes cells to ultimately create a human being.

Combined with technology, the unfertilized egg might be coaxed to produce other specific cells, including stem cells, which can be directed to grow into new tissue. This potential could be used to combat diseases.

Cibelli said his team’s mission is to grow stem cells without using fertilized embryos, which can be controversial. This work used only unfertilized human eggs that were obtained from women seeking fertility treatment at a clinic in Santiago, Chile. Women at the clinic must be reproductively healthy, no older than 35, and the cause of infertility must lie within the man. This presented the availability of exceptionally healthy eggs, Cibelli said. All the donors granted informed consent for their surplus eggs to be used for this research.

Cibelli worked with researchers in Chile to extract the RNA from the unfertilized eggs soon after they were harvested. That material, a treasure of genetic information, was frozen and shipped to MSU.

Cibelli’s team, Arif Murat Kocabas, Pablo Ross, Zeki Beyhan and Robert Halgren, started analyzing the thousands of genes represented in the human egg to identify those which are unique to the egg. They teamed with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School in Boston to work with sophisticated bioinformatics software.

To make a comparison that would show which genes were uniquely active in the human egg, they used RNA of all parts of the human body – except that of the ovaries, where eggs are produced.

Then the computer analysis began. In a highly sophisticated game of match, every gene in the egg that was found in other tissues was eliminated, so that only unique genes remained.

Cibelli said that the team identified 5,331 human genes that are overexpressed in the egg. Of those, 1,430 are mysteries – their function unknown.

The group also compared the human egg genes with those of a mouse as well as human and mouse embryonic stem cells. On the final intersection, 66 genes were found to be common between the four sets of data.

“There are thousands of genes that are redundant. We found about one in a thousand genes that are unique to the eggs – and some of them, they don’t have a known function yet,” Cibelli said. “Now we can clone these genes and put them into cells and see if they may have a role in the creation of stem cells – without fertilization or destruction of human embryos.”

Cibelli believes some of those genes know the big secrets – such as when a cell should slow down and later become a cell that can grow into any cell of the human body. The computer work of this preliminary search will give way to further experiments.

This research was funded by the MSU Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, and supported by the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station.

###

Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 14 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: crevolist
Everybody be nice.
1 posted on 09/06/2006 10:20:54 AM PDT by PatrickHenry
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To: VadeRetro; Junior; longshadow; RadioAstronomer; Doctor Stochastic; js1138; Shryke; RightWhale; ...
Evolution Ping

The List-O-Links
A conservative, pro-evolution science list, now with over 390 names.
See the list's explanation, then FReepmail to be added or dropped.
To assist beginners: But it's "just a theory", Evo-Troll's Toolkit,
and How to argue against a scientific theory.

2 posted on 09/06/2006 10:22:12 AM PDT by PatrickHenry (Where are the anachronistic fossils?)
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To: PatrickHenry

Maybe MSU can use this to make another Charles Rogers/sarc


3 posted on 09/06/2006 10:23:23 AM PDT by Mikey_1962 (If you build it, they won't come...)
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To: PatrickHenry
I love eggs,

From my head down to my legs...........

4 posted on 09/06/2006 10:24:27 AM PDT by Red Badger (Is Castro dead yet?........)
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To: Red Badger

I hope when they cracked they didn't get any shell in the whites.


5 posted on 09/06/2006 10:31:25 AM PDT by boomop1 (there you go again)
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To: PatrickHenry

"Everybody be nice."

Dang...


6 posted on 09/06/2006 10:32:42 AM PDT by Integrityrocks
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To: PatrickHenry
Hmm. Reply was zapped. Try again.

The brain of the cell is in the cell wall. The DNA/RNA/genes are for reference only. This is how the fertilized egg suddenly turns into kevlar armored cell as soon as the first sperm touches it: the cell wall does the afferent and efferent thinking.

7 posted on 09/06/2006 10:33:47 AM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the law of the excluded middle)
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To: boomop1

Ohhh, I hate that when it happens.........Biting down on a piece of shell is like fingernails on a chalkboard with me!.......


8 posted on 09/06/2006 10:34:06 AM PDT by Red Badger (Is Castro dead yet?........)
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To: PatrickHenry

Wow - you hit evolution and embryonic (not really) stem cells all in one post!


9 posted on 09/06/2006 10:39:09 AM PDT by doc30 (Democrats are to morals what and Etch-A-Sketch is to Art.)
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To: PatrickHenry
Great stuff. What's interesting about mammalian oocytes and then fertilized eggs is that these sort of analyses turn up a failr amount of sequences that are species specific -- ie they don't have homologs in other species. This includes non-homologous genes even between rat and mouse, for example. Usually non-conserved sequences between mouse and human will have a rat homolog. But in these cells related to reproduction there are sequences simply not found in any other species.

Also, a large number of non-gene sequences (eg transcripts of repeat elements) are seen.

There are a lot of mysteries and the title of this is a misnomer. Biology is more mysterious than ever now because we know so much more which tells us so much we don't know.

A few years ago we wouldn't have known enough to know what we don't know.

And as far as this: Everybody be nice.

That always seems like an actual challenge or invitation to trade insults.

It's smarmy and rude.

10 posted on 09/06/2006 10:39:10 AM PDT by tallhappy (Juntos Podemos!)
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To: PatrickHenry
The human egg’s ability to transform into a new life, or into new cells that may someday save lives, is well documented.

What is well documented are untested claims that embryonic stem cells may provide new therapies for various diseases.

The identification opens the way to understanding these genes’ functions, which may lead to solving problems from infertility to degenerative diseases.

The key word here again is may. But nobody knows for sure.

11 posted on 09/06/2006 10:42:02 AM PDT by stripes1776
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To: PatrickHenry
Combined with technology, the unfertilized egg might be coaxed to produce other specific cells, including stem cells

This is great news!

12 posted on 09/06/2006 10:43:40 AM PDT by curiosity
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To: PatrickHenry

The creator said he made them male and female according to their kind, and he made humans in his image...if so, why hermaphrodites? That's a question biblical theologians can't answer except "it's a mystery."

Glad evil scientists are actually studying and determining what makes things tick.

JMO


13 posted on 09/06/2006 10:44:10 AM PDT by sully777 (You have flies in your eyes--Catch-22)
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To: AdmSmith; AnalogReigns; caryatid; CobaltBlue; concentric circles; Domestic Church; Emmalein; ...
Genetic
Genealogy
Send FReepmail if you want on/off GGP list
Marty = Paternal Haplogroup O(2?)(M175)
Maternal Haplogroup H
GG LINKS:
African Ancestry
DNAPrint Genomics
FamilyTree DNA
mitosearch
Nat'l Geographic Genographic Project
Oxford Ancestors
RelativeGenetics
Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation
Trace Genetics
ybase
ysearch
The List of Ping Lists

14 posted on 09/06/2006 10:50:32 AM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: tallhappy
That always seems like an actual challenge or invitation to trade insults.

In the eye of the beholder.

15 posted on 09/06/2006 11:01:35 AM PDT by js1138 (Well I say there are some things we don't want to know! Important things!")
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To: PatrickHenry
Add me to your science ping list please PH?

Thanks mightily :)

16 posted on 09/06/2006 11:03:13 AM PDT by HeartlandOfAmerica (Middle East Interactive Map: http://interneticsonline.com/MEMap.html)
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To: PatrickHenry
What? No Yolks!
17 posted on 09/06/2006 11:18:32 AM PDT by Young Werther
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To: Young Werther

This is nothing to yolk about!


18 posted on 09/06/2006 11:21:22 AM PDT by LIConFem (Just opened a new seafood restaurant in Great Britain, called "Squid Pro Quid")
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To: PatrickHenry

He has a very interesting site http://www.crl.msu.edu/


19 posted on 09/06/2006 11:22:20 AM PDT by AdmSmith
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To: tallhappy
Biology is more mysterious than ever now because we know so much more which tells us so much we don't know.

Dang, that has got to be the quote of the day. I couldn't have said it better myself. The most fascinating thing to me about ALL fields of science, is the consistent revelation that the more we learn, the more we realize how much we oversimplified the things we didn't know before. Every time a question gets answered, it reveals several more complex questions that could not have even been conceived prior to the earlier revelation.

Science rocks.
20 posted on 09/06/2006 11:36:49 AM PDT by Sopater (Creatio Ex Nihilo)
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To: RightWhale

Human cells do not have a cell wall. Do you mean the cell membrane?


21 posted on 09/06/2006 11:52:19 AM PDT by fschmieg
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To: Mikey_1962
Amen to that! Usually, it's UofM that has these kind of breakthroughs, so it is nice to see my alma mater get some recognition.
22 posted on 09/06/2006 11:54:12 AM PDT by rintense
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To: fschmieg

If you wish. The outer lining of the cell. Membrane, whatever. Also the outer linings of the cell-like things inside the cell.


23 posted on 09/06/2006 11:55:28 AM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the law of the excluded middle)
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To: PatrickHenry
Everybody be nice.

Oh, you bwute! You bwute! Imagine my little fists pummeling your smarmy, wude chest.

24 posted on 09/06/2006 12:45:24 PM PDT by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: VadeRetro
Smarmy and rude placemarker.
25 posted on 09/06/2006 12:57:08 PM PDT by PatrickHenry (Where are the anachronistic fossils? Where are the moderate creationists?)
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To: PatrickHenry; VadeRetro
You both prove my point.
26 posted on 09/06/2006 2:23:52 PM PDT by tallhappy (Juntos Podemos!)
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To: PatrickHenry

Moo U propaganda placemarker. I love it :-)


27 posted on 09/06/2006 2:25:16 PM PDT by furball4paws (Awful Offal)
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To: tallhappy; PatrickHenry; VadeRetro
Hell...he may be a smarmy and rude guy, but he's our smarmy and rude guy.

And once again, we prove your point (lucky your hat covers it). [Geez, am I funny or what?]

28 posted on 09/06/2006 2:28:56 PM PDT by Pharmboy (Every single day provides at least one new reason to hate the mainstream media...)
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To: Pharmboy
Swami placemark.


29 posted on 09/06/2006 2:35:02 PM PDT by dread78645 (Evolution. A doomed theory since 1859.)
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To: stripes1776

Why do the tentative words bother you? That's how science works.

Hypotheses are developed. They use words like "may" and "might."

Seriously, do you have a problem with science?


30 posted on 09/06/2006 2:48:08 PM PDT by stands2reason (ANAGRAM for the day: Socialist twaddle == Tact is disallowed)
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To: stands2reason
Seriously, do you have a problem with science?

I have a problem with people, whether politicians, salesmen, or scientists, making exaggerated claims and predictions simply because they sound good.

Some scientist have made and are making unrealistic preditions about the speed with which therapies will be produced. Here is an article from last year, "Medical Value of Stem Cells 'Over-Hyped'", in which Robert Wilson, a professor of fertility studes at Imperial Colleg London, cautions "I think it is unlikely that embryonic stem cells are likely to be useful in health care for a long time."

In another article on the same subject, "Stem Cell Hopes Distorted by 'Arrogance and Spin'", it says that scientists are being over-optimistic and providing a "case study in scientific arrogance and the danger of 'spining' a good story."

Hypotheses in science are never proven. What a scientist can do is collect experimental data that supports the hypotheses. Einsteins theory of relativity has never been proven and can't be. Inductive reasoning from experimental is not a proof. All any one can say is that the data supports the hypothesis. Someone may come up with a better hypothesis later on. Indeed, Einstein spent the last 35 years of his life trying to find a unified field theory that would reconcile his theory with quantum mechanics. He failed.

But a predition of the speed with which therapies will be found is not a hypothesis. It is only a prediction, and not a very good one when it is done simply to get research money. What I am asking for is to cut the hype and be more realistic about what may be possible.

Their are huge obstacle to overcome. Scientists do not know the mechanisms to direct embryonic stem cells to specific types of cells. There is also some evidence to suggest that such adult cells could spontaneously revert back to stem cells, or start growing in distorted and unpredictable ways like a cancer.

And what about proper peer review? A Korean scientist faked cloning experiments and lots of people simply accepted the findings because they wanted them to be true. That is not good science by any stretch of the imagination.

Let's all just cool the hype.

31 posted on 09/06/2006 3:44:38 PM PDT by stripes1776
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To: stands2reason
Sorry, but the second link is my previous reply is broken due to a spelling error in the code. This should do it.
32 posted on 09/06/2006 3:49:34 PM PDT by stripes1776
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To: RightWhale

Ah! Life!


33 posted on 09/06/2006 5:20:46 PM PDT by phantomworker (A camel is a horse designed by committee. Sofa king crazy.)
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To: RightWhale
the cell wall does the afferent and efferent thinking.

...and since the egg is the woman's contribution -- it shows how early the woman is able to multitask. :-)

Cheers!

34 posted on 09/06/2006 7:04:05 PM PDT by grey_whiskers
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To: PatrickHenry
From the article:

“There are thousands of genes that are redundant. We found about one in a thousand genes that are unique to the eggs – and some of them, they don’t have a known function yet,” Cibelli said. “Now we can clone these genes and put them into cells and see if they may have a role in the creation of stem cells – without fertilization or destruction of human embryos.”

All very intriguing, and promising line of inquiry -- hope it proves frutiful!

35 posted on 09/07/2006 1:09:55 PM PDT by ToryHeartland
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Placemarker


36 posted on 09/07/2006 2:59:15 PM PDT by b_sharp (Objectivity? Objectivity? We don't need no stinkin' objectivity.)
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