Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Supersize Flies
22 January 2017

Supersize Flies

Why are we the size that we are? And why don’t our organs keep growing once we’re reached adulthood? The answers to these questions are still mostly a mystery, although scientists are gradually figuring out the genes that control how big animals or their body parts grow. The chief culprits are genes called Salvador, Warts and Hippo, which work together with others to tell organs to grow to the right size. The three strange-looking objects shown here are fruit fly wing discs – primitive structures in a maggot that will eventually grow into wings in the adult insect. Top left is a normal-sized disc, while the other two – shown at the same scale – come from animals with changes in two genes that interact with Hippo and its molecular colleagues. Scientists studying these supersized flies hope to understand how human cancer cells manage to over-ride these growth controls and form large tumours.

Written by Kat Arney

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