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Living view in animals shows how cells decide to make proteins

ly in their natural environment versus an artificially created environment such as a laboratory tissue culture," Garcia-Blanco said. "The complexity of alternative splicing necessitates its visualization as the decisions are occurring, because taking a cell out of its context shows only its current status and not how it arrived at that place."

For instance, the splicing process can change even from day to day as an animal develops, he said, adding that extracting cells and watching them in a culture cannot convey all of these transient changes.

Moreover, different cell types within the brain or other organs can exhibit different splicing decisions, Garcia-Blanco said. For example, neurons reside next to glial cells in the brain, yet they express different proteins in different amounts, and detecting such differences in cell cultures can be exceedingly difficult, he said.

"This is a powerful tool to apply to mouse genetics to learn when and where in the animals' bodies alternative splicing decisions are made and, eventually, to learn what factors are critical in making these decisions," Garcia-Blanco said.

"Given the importance of alternative splicing in health and disease," he added, "this anatomic mapping of splicing decisions may give us considerable insight into the many human diseases associated with improper regulation of splicing."
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Source:Duke University Medical Center


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