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A cell formed by the fertilization between two gametes has all the DNA and can lead the development of a human person (or other animals in other species). But other cells in a human person has also all the DNA (like skin cells), yet they don't lead the development of organs, bones, etc. What is the difference between the zygote and cells from any part of the body from a developed person that one can lead to the development of a person and the others can't in spite of all of them have all the DNA? Does it have to do with the enviroment/surrounding those cells are in, is there any structural difference between the zygote and the other cells or how is it?

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closed as too broad by David, Remi.b, John, Satwik Pasani, kmm May 29 '18 at 18:15

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ You may want to ask for basic sources/reading for embryology and development, since answering this question will require restating everything about cell differentiation. As it is it will be flagged as too broad becasue you are asking many different questions. $\endgroup$ – John May 15 '18 at 21:43
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    $\begingroup$ I disagree that answering this question requires anything as complicated as that; I think swbarnes has already answered the question sufficiently in just a few sentences. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause May 16 '18 at 0:14
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Developmental biology is a huge field that we are still working on a lot.

DNA is only half the story. The other half is gene expression; what subset of the DNA a cell is using at any time. Your lung cells have the gene for insulin, but in lung cells, that gene is dormant.

The short answer is that in general, a mature cell is using the subset of its DNA that it needs to do its job and can't just change its gene expression to become a different kind of cell. Cells that do become less like adult cells and less specialized can become cancerous.

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  • $\begingroup$ The question in the title — too broad for SE Biology in my opinion — is "Why", not what happens. Saying genes get switched off in differentiated cells doesn't explain why, or why one cell becomes liver and another muscle. Better just to comment if this is all you have to say. $\endgroup$ – David May 15 '18 at 17:49
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    $\begingroup$ @David I don't think the OP was going for an existential "why" here: see the two questions that are the last two sentences of the OP. This answer, while simplified and missing other special attributes of a zygote, I think does answer those questions succinctly, especially the original title before you edited it which was directed toward the presence of the same overall DNA. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause May 15 '18 at 19:17

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