Mena in the Colon

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Daisy Riquelme and Chandrani Mondal, Koch Institute at MIT

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A single gene can produce multiple variants of a protein through a process known as alternative splicing. When alternative splicing occurs, portions of a protein can be excluded or included and can potentially change a protein’s function and role within a cell. Mena is a protein involved in the regulation of cellular migration and of cell shape. It can be alternatively spliced to include an extra piece and this alternative version is known as Mena11a. In this image of crypts within the colon, Mena11a is shown in green while Mena (with or without the insert) is in red. Mena11a is expressed more prominently in the crypts, the circular islands of cells, which are made of epithelial cells, and are absent from the surrounding, non-epithelial cells. This image was taken to demonstrate the normal expression pattern of Mena11a relative to total Mena protein to be used as a comparison to images of colon cancer.