Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Wafting Along

Gene identified that's essential for the formation of cilia (tiny 'hairs' on cells) that keep fluid moving normally through the brain

03 January 2019

Wafting Along

Just as a car needs oil to keep everything moving, your brain is bathed with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) – a special liquid flowing through the cavities within the brain. As well as keeping the brain healthy and working properly throughout life, the flow of CSF is also vitally important during development, helping to ensure that the correct structures appear in the right places. It turns out that a gene called KIF6 is essential for the formation of tiny hairs, known as cilia, that keep the flow of CSF moving through the brain. Researchers have discovered this gene at work in the cilia of many different animals, from frog cells (shown here, with Kif6 protein coloured green) to zebrafish and mice. They have also found a child born with brain abnormalities has a faulty KIF6 gene, suggesting that it also plays a vital role in human brain development and function too.

Written by Kat Arney

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