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Cascade of Colour
13 April 2014

Cascade of Colour

The development of melanocytes – the cells that give colour to our skin – is a complicated process. Their growth is controlled by a network of many different genes that can switch on and off at different times, as well as triggering others within the network in a cascade of gene activity. By discovering and mapping out the relationships between these genes, scientists hope to reveal how faults in the system can lead to diseases such as melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer. Here they’re studying melanocyte development in zebrafish embryos, using colourful dyes to stain particular active genes in cells. Taking ‘snapshots’ at different times of development can gradually build up a picture of the genes responsible for a melanocyte: from stem cell to fully-functioning mature cell.

Written by Manisha Lalloo

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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