Fishing games gone wrong

Thursday, August 18, 2011 - 12:30 in Biology & Nature

When an egg cell is being formed, the cellular machinery which separates chromosomes is extremely imprecise at fishing them out of the cell's interior, scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, have discovered. The unexpected degree of trial-and-error involved in this process could explain why errors in the number of chromosomes in the egg cell are the leading cause of miscarriages and severe congenital diseases such as trisomies like Down's syndrome, as well as an important cause of female infertility. The findings are published online today in Cell.

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