Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gene that allows worms to grow new head and brain discovered

Date:
April 24, 2010
Source:
University of Nottingham
Summary:
Scientists have discovered the gene that enables an extraordinary worm to regenerate its own body parts after amputation -- including a whole head and brain.

Body builders - the worms that point the way to understanding tissue regeneration.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Nottingham

Scientists at The University of Nottingham have discovered the gene that enables an extraordinary worm to regenerate its own body parts after amputation -- including a whole head and brain.

Related Articles


Their research into the Planarian worm is another piece in the scientific jigsaw that could one day make the regeneration of old or damaged human organs and tissues a real possibility.

The research led by Dr Aziz Aboobaker, a Research Councils UK Fellow in the School of Biology shows for the first time that a gene called 'Smed-prep' is essential for correctly regenerating a head and brain in planarian worms. The study is published on April 22 2010 in the open access journal PLoS Genetics.

Planarian worms have an amazing ability to regenerate body parts, including a head and brain, following amputation. These remarkable creatures contain adult stem cells that are constantly dividing and can become all of the missing cell types. They also have the right set of genes working to make this happen exactly as it should so that when they re-grow body parts they end up in the right place and have the correct size, shape and orientation.

Dr Aboobaker said: "These amazing worms offer us the opportunity to observe tissue regeneration in a very simple animal that can regenerate itself to a remarkable extent and does so as a matter of course.

"We want to be able to understand how adult stem cells can work collectively in any animal to form and replace damaged or missing organs and tissues. Any fundamental advances in understanding from other animals can become relevant to humans surprisingly quickly.

"If we know what is happening when tissues are regenerated under normal circumstances, we can begin to formulate how to replace damaged and diseased organs, tissues and cells in an organised and safe way following an injury caused by trauma or disease. This would be desirable for treating Alzheimer's disease, for example. With this knowledge we can also assess the consequences of what happens when stem cells go wrong during the normal processes of renewal -- for example in the blood cell system where rogue stem cells can result in Leukaemia."

Smed-prep is necessary for the correct differentiation and location of the cells that make up a planarian worm's head. It is also sufficient for defining where the head should be located on the worm. The team have found that although the presence of Smed-prep is vital so that the head and brain are in the right place, the worm stem cells can still be persuaded to form brain cells as a result of the action of other unrelated genes. But even so, without Smed-prep these cells do not organise themselves to form a normal brain.

Daniel Felix, a graduate student who carried out the experimental work said: "The understanding of the molecular basis for tissue remodeling and regeneration is of vital importance for regenerative medicine. Planarians are famous for their immense power of regeneration, being able to regenerate a new head after decapitation. With the homeobox gene Smed-prep, we have characterised the first gene necessary for correct anterior fate and patterning during regeneration. It has been a really exciting project and I feel very lucky to have had this study as the centre piece of my thesis work"


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Nottingham. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Daniel A. Felix, A. Aziz Aboobaker, Susan E. Mango. The TALE Class Homeobox Gene Smed-prep Defines the Anterior Compartment for Head Regeneration. PLoS Genetics, 2010; 6 (4): e1000915 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000915

Cite This Page:

University of Nottingham. "Gene that allows worms to grow new head and brain discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100423113721.htm>.
University of Nottingham. (2010, April 24). Gene that allows worms to grow new head and brain discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100423113721.htm
University of Nottingham. "Gene that allows worms to grow new head and brain discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100423113721.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins