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The gene of the first breath


Researchers from the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) have successfully identified the gene that allows the newborn to move from aquatic breathing in utero to the open air. This discovery could open new avenues for understanding sudden infant death.

  • Researchers from the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) were interested in the breathing mechanism of newborns, to better understand how the transition between intrauterine breathing and breathing takes place at the time of birth.

An indispensable protein

  • Their work, published in the American magazine The Journal of Neuroscience, revealed that the Tshz3 gene controls the production of the TSHZ3 protein which is essential for the baby's breathing and therefore its survival.
  • To better understand how the infant changes his breathing at the time of birth, the scientists performed experiments on baby mice. They discovered that when in newborn rodents, the Tshz3 gene does not work and does not make its protein, the mice are unable to breathe and die at birth.

New perspectives

  • This discovery could open new perspectives on the implication of this gene in respiratory disorders and in particular with regard to sudden infant death.

Alison Novic

(News of the 21/07/10)

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