Chop Up a Worm. It Will Regenerate. Scientists Figured Out Why. - The New York Times
As we conclude our regeneration experiment this week, a new study comes along that suggests that part of the regeneration process is regulated by 'master genes', a concept that we explored earlier during our discussion of 'snake genes and human spines'. While our recent evaluation of regeneration focused upon stem cells, remember that it is the genes that these cells express that ultimately determines their cellular fate. This new study suggests that one particular gene EGR ("early growth response") is necessary for regeneration to occur.
This new study showed that EGR activation is necessary for regeneration in the marine three-banded panther worm (very similar to the planaria we used in our lab). While much remains to investigate regarding EGR and its function, the authors do note that humans also possess this same gene, and that it is known to be activated by injury. So, these studies performed in tiny flatworms are very relevant to us. And, once again, the topics we explore in lab remain at the forefront of genetic science. Very cool, I think!
Have a great weekend -
As you have heard by now, our lab (like all classes at IUP main campus) is canceled for today. Please stay safe while this cold front passes.
We'll resume our schedule next week, and pick-up our meiosis exercise then. In the meantime, I'll pass along a recent news article about axolotl salamanders, and efforts to decode their DNA. Axolotls are of great interest in medicine because they are the only vertebrate animal that is able to regenerate nearly any of its body parts if they are lost.
Imagine if humans had the ability to re-grow lost fingers or limbs? Perhaps learning about how axolotls achieve this kind of regrowth will someday get us there.
See you next week -