Growing Pains

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Science  20 Sep 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6152, pp. 1321
DOI: 10.1126/science.341.6152.1321-d

Humans, unlike most other mammalian species, have an extended slow childhood growth period between the relatively rapid growth stages of infancy and puberty. Examining gene transcripts in lymphoid tissue in humans spanning infancy, childhood, puberty, and adulthood, Stevens et al. identified gene expression networks of age, of which a subset were growth-specific, and related them to a human protein and genetic interaction networks. The highest levels of predicted gene interactions were in infancy, showing decreasing connectivity with increasing age. Examination of different age-associated networks identified conserved pathways related to growth, which were also identified in the transcriptomes of other tissues. Furthermore, interactions between genes and glucocorticoid receptor–mediated transcription implicated age/stage-specific networks. Of the genes with age-specific expression, several had previously been identified as associated with height and, surprisingly, diabetes. This study suggests that gene interaction networks change, and are rewired, in a predicable manner throughout human development and growth.

BMC Genom. 14, 10.1186/1471-2164-14-547 (2013).

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