MadSci Network: Development

Re: Is apoptosis responsible for the length of the tongue?

Date: Sat Sep 10 15:34:05 2005
Posted By: Chris Reigstad, Grad student, Molecular Biology and Pharmacology, Washington University in St. Louis
Area of science: Development
ID: 1126297199.Dv

Hi Cecily,

Apoptosis (a.k.a. programmed cell death) plays an important role in
separating the digits on the hands and feet by eliminating tissue between
our fingers and toes during embryonic development. In the absence of
apoptosis, our fingers and toes would develop with webbing between the
digits. Although several cellular processes are critical for proper tongue
development, apoptosis does not play a major role in determining its length.

The fingers and toes begin to form during embryonic development:

"Formation of hand paddle - 34-38 days
Onset of finger separation - 38-40 days
Full separation of fingers - 50-52 days"

Here's a nice overview of tongue development including an animation,
diagrams and photos:

Best wishes,
Chris Reigstad

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