September 15, 2014

Zebrafish genes linked to human respiratory diseases

A*STAR scientists have discovered genes in this tropical freshwater fish which may be synonymous with the genes for developing hair-like structures in the human airway

A small freshwater fish found in many tropical aquariums may hold the key to unlocking one of the leading causes of respiratory diseases in humans.

Scientists from A*STAR’s Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) have identified hundreds of novel genes in the zebrafish that could be functionally identical to the human genes required for forming motile cilia, hair-like structures on the surface of airway cells. These are required for removing dust and pathogens from the human airway. The study showed that the loss of these genes is linked to development of defective motile cilia, which could be the cause of some respiratory diseases.