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 -