Subscribe
Subscribe
MY AMERICAN SCIENTIST
LOG IN! REGISTER!
SEARCH
 
Logo IMG

BOOK REVIEW

The "Red Queen" Gene: An Excerpt from Jacob's Ladder: The History of the Human Genome, by Henry Gee

Nursery rhymes can be unspeakably violent. Recall, for example, the three unfortunate mice who, as well as being blind, had their tails docked by a sadistic, knife–wielding peasant. The real–life, adults–only version of this tale features a newborn mouse, seemingly perfect in every way except that the front end of its body is oddly truncated, ending in a small mound crowned by two tiny ears. This mouse is certainly blind, since not only does it have no eyes, it also has no head. It looks as cleanly decapitated as if by the farmer's wife of folklore. The mouse was one of four born without a head, as a result of a mutation in a regulatory gene called Lim1. With no mouth or nose to breathe through, [it] died very soon after its birth. More than a hundred other headless mice foetuses did not get as far as being born.

The experiments in which these mice were created were part of an effort to understand the activities of Lim1, one of an increasingly well–documented cadre of regulatory genes whose role it is to ensure that every part of the body develops in the place it should. When such genes are mutated, the result can be as monstrous as anything from nursery folklore.

Jacob’s Ladder: The History of the Human Genome
Henry Gee
W. W. Norton, $25.95


comments powered by Disqus
 

Connect With Us:

Facebook Icon Sm Twitter Icon Google+ Icon Pinterest Icon RSS Feed

Sigma Xi/Amazon Smile (SciNight)


Latest Multimedia

Bishop with beehives

The disappearance of honeybees continues to make headlines in the news and science journals, but are their numbers still dwindling, and if so, what are the causes?

Dr. Jack Bishop, a researcher at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and a hobby beekeeper, discusses the external influences that are linked to bee population decline, as well as ways to help honeybees thrive.

Click the Title to view all multimedia content!


Subscribe to Free eNewsletters!

  • Sigma Xi SmartBrief:

    A free daily summary of the latest news in scientific research. Each story is summarized concisely and linked directly to the original source for further reading.

  • American Scientist Update

  • An early peek at each new issue, with descriptions of feature articles, columns, Science Observers and more. Every other issue contains links to everything in the latest issue's table of contents.

  • Scientists' Nightstand

  • News of book reviews published in American Scientist and around the web, as well as other noteworthy happenings in the world of science books.

    To sign up for automatic emails of the American Scientist Update and Scientists' Nightstand issues, create an online profile, then sign up in the My AmSci area.


EMAIL TO A FRIEND :

Subscribe to American Scientist