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September 18, 2020 - EurekAlert

Humans develop more slowly than mice because our chemistry is different

Humans develop more slowly than mice because our chemistry is different
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Scientists from the RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) Barcelona, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, and Kyoto University have found that the "segmentation clock"--a genetic network that governs the body pattern formation of embryos--progresses more slowly in humans than in mice because the biochemical reactions are slower in human cells.

The differences in the speeds of biochemical reactions may underlie differences between species in the tempo of development.

In the early phase of the development of vertebrates, the embryo develops into a series of "segments" that eventually differentiate into different types of tissues, such as muscles or the ribs. This process is known to be governed by an oscillating biochemical process, known as the segmentation clock, which varies between species. For example, it is about two hours in mice, and about five hours in humans. Why the length of this cycle varies between species has remained a mystery, however.

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