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.

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 September 22, 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 September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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