Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Hippo or Fly?
06 September 2013

Hippo or Fly?

Animals come in a huge range of shapes and sizes, even within the same species – for example, dogs range from tiny Chihuahuas to enormous Great Danes. Some people grow tall while others are shorties. But, generally speaking, all our cells are roughly the same size, so what makes us grow into different dimensions? The answer is mostly still a mystery, but scientists are starting to gather some clues. One is a gene called hippo, which helps to control how cells multiply. These images show the multi-faceted eyes of tiny fruit flies, but while the one on the left is normal, the one on the right carries a faulty version of hippo. The cells in its eye are growing out of control, making it crumple and pucker. Understanding how hippo and other growth genes work could help to explain why we end up the shapes and sizes we are.

Written by Kat Arney

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