MU researchers find key gene in spinal locomotion, yield insight on paralysis

Paige Views and News

Samuel Waters and graduate researcher Desiré Buckley review stages of embryonic development. — BLANKENBUEHLER Samuel Waters and graduate researcher Desiré Buckley review stages of embryonic development. — BLANKENBUEHLER

By Paige Blankenbuehler

The difference between walking and being paralyzed could be as simple as turning a light switch on and off, a culmination of years of research shows.

Recently, University of Missouri Assistant Professor of biology Samuel T. Waters isolated a coding gene that he found has profound effects on locomotion and central nervous system development.

Waters’ work with gene expression in embryonic mouse tissue could shed light on paralysis and stroke and other disorders of the central nervous system, like Alzheimer’s disease.

Waters works extensively with two coking genes called “Gbx1” and “Gbx2”. These genes — exist in the body with approximately 20,000 other protein-coding genes — are essential for development in the central nervous system.

“To understand what’s going wrong, it’s critical that we know that’s right,” Waters said.

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