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In Portugal, a team of scientists has successfully created a 6-legged mouse embryo with an extra pair of hind legs instead of external genitalia. Moisés Mallo, a biologist at the Gulbenkian Institute of Sciences in Oerias, Portugal, and his colleagues have been studying a receptor protein called Tgfbr1, which plays a crucial role in embryonic development.

Their research has shown that Tgfbr1 dictates whether structures develop into genitals or legs. By stopping the activity of the Tgfbr1 gene in mouse embryos during pregnancy, they were able to observe its effects on spinal cord development. The researchers discovered that inactivating the Tgfbr1 gene led to the development of hind legs instead of external genitalia.

Furthermore, their study showed that Tgfbr1 regulates other genes involved in cellular responses like cell growth and division. Mutations in this gene can increase the risk of skin cancer. The researchers are now planning to investigate how Tgfbr1 and related genes affect other systems, such as cancer metastasis, and whether similar processes occur in reptiles with double penises.

To conduct their research, the team used embryos collected from mice aged 3-6 months. They dissected the embryos without distinguishing between male and female embryos since their external genitalia do not differ significantly. The researchers believe that further research will focus on understanding the broader implications of Tgfbr1 in development and disease.

In conclusion, this breakthrough discovery by Portuguese scientists opens up new avenues for research into genetic regulation and its impact on embryonic development. Their findings could potentially lead to advancements in regenerative medicine and our understanding of cancer metastasis.

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