Research NewsDevelopmental Biology

Defining the First Steps on the Path Toward Cell Specialization

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Science  27 Oct 1995:
Vol. 270, Issue 5236, pp. 578-579
DOI: 10.1126/science.270.5236.578


Boston, Massachusetts—In this issue of Science ( p. 637 and p. 641), a team of researchers in Paris and Cambridge, Massachusetts, has provided a clue to a central mystery in developmental biology: How do two cells with identical sets of genes develop along different paths? In one species of bacteria, a protein called SpoIIE initiates a cascade of biochemical changes on only one side of a burgeoning cell membrane, causing one of the new cells to become a specialized bacterial spore. This asymmetrical process may depend on differences in the cell sizes, a phenomenon that also seems to play a role in cell specialization in other species.