Gene initiates joint formation

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Medical School researchers first to discover such a gene

Researchers at Harvard Medical School have identified a molecule that plays a central role in the initiation of joint formation. Studying limb formation in the developing chick, postdoctoral fellow Christine Hartmann and her adviser, Clifford Tabin, Harvard Medical School professor of genetics, found that a previously uncharacterized member of the Wnt family, Wnt14, was expressed early in regions of the embryo that become synovial joints. The presence of Wnt14 in presumptive joint regions early in development led Hartmann and Tabin to investigate the role of Wnt14 in the initiation of joint formation. Their work, which identified “the first gene reported to have the ability to initiate joint formation,” says Hartmann, was reported in the Feb. 9, 2001, Cell.