Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Heading for regeneration: Researchers reactivate head regeneration in regeneration-deficient species of planarians

Date:
July 24, 2013
Source:
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Summary:
Rabbits can't do it, neither can frogs, but zebrafish and axolotls can and flatworms are true masters of the craft: regeneration. Why some animals can re-grow lost body parts or organs while others cannot remains a big mystery. And even more intriguing to us regeneration-challenged humans is the question whether one might be able to activate regenerative abilities in species that don't usually regenerate.

The planarian species Dendrocoeulum lacteum is incapable of regenerating a lost head. This sample however was genetically modified – head regrowth was reactivated.
Credit: © MPI-CBG

Rabbits can't do it, neither can frogs, but zebrafish and axolotls can and flatworms are true masters of the craft: regeneration. Why some animals can re-grow lost body parts or organs while others cannot remains a big mystery. And even more intriguing to us regeneration-challenged humans is the question whether one might be able to activate regenerative abilities in species that don't usually regenerate.

Related Articles


Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden are now one step further in understanding the factors that regulate regeneration. They discovered a crucial molecular switch in the flatworm Dendrocoelum lacteum that decides whether a lost head can be regenerated or not. And what is even more spectacular: The scientists manipulated the genetic circuitry of the worm in such a way as to fully restore its regeneration potential.

In his lab, Jochen Rink, research group leader at the MPI-CBG, usually studies the flatworm species Schmidtea mediterranea. It is known for its excellent regenerative abilities and thus a popular model species in regeneration research: "We can cut the worm to 200 pieces, and 200 new worms will regenerate from each and every piece," Rink explains. Now, for a change, Rink and colleagues brought a different beast into the lab, the flatworm Dendrocoelum lacteum. Even though a close cousin of the regeneration master S. mediterranea, this species had been reported to be incapable of regenerating heads from its posterior body half. "What's the salient difference between the two cousins," the researcher asked?

Together with researchers from the Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden Rink's team searched for an answer amongst the genes of the two species, focusing on the so-called Wnt-signaling pathway. Like a cable link between two computers, signalling pathways transmit information between cells. The Dresden researchers inhibited the signal transducer of the Wnt pathway with RNAi and thus made the cells of the worm believe that the signalling pathway had been switched to "off." Consequently, Dendrocoelum lacteum were able to grow a fully functional head everywhere, even when cut at the very tail.

Re-building a head complete with brain, eyes and all the wiring in between is evidently complicated business. However, as the study showed, regeneration defects are not necessarily irreversible. Jochen Rink is stunned: "We thought we would have to manipulate hundreds of different switches to repair a regeneration defect; now we learned that sometimes only a few nodes may do." Will this knowledge soon be applicable to more complex organisms -- like humans, for example? "We showed that by comparisons amongst related species we can obtain insights into why some animals regenerate while others don't -- that's an important first step."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S.-Y. Liu, C. Selck, B. Friedrich, R. Lutz, M. Vila-Farrι, A. Dahl, H. Brandl, N. Lakshmanaperumal, I. Henry, J. C. Rink. Reactivating head regrowth in a regeneration-deficient planarian species. Nature, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nature12414

Cite This Page:

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Heading for regeneration: Researchers reactivate head regeneration in regeneration-deficient species of planarians." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130724134019.htm>.
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. (2013, July 24). Heading for regeneration: Researchers reactivate head regeneration in regeneration-deficient species of planarians. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130724134019.htm
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Heading for regeneration: Researchers reactivate head regeneration in regeneration-deficient species of planarians." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130724134019.htm (accessed February 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Drinks for Your Health

The Best Drinks for Your Health

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) — When it comes to health and fitness, there&apos;s lots of talk about what foods to eat, but there are a few liquids that can promote good nutrition. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the healthiest drinks to boost your health! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cherries, Snap Peas and More Tasty Spring Produce

Cherries, Snap Peas and More Tasty Spring Produce

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) — From sweet cherries to sugar snap peas, spring is the peak season for some of the tastiest and healthiest produce. Krystin Goodwin (@Krystingoodwin) has the best seasonal fruits and veggies to spring in to good health! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods to Battle Stress

The Best Foods to Battle Stress

Buzz60 (Feb. 26, 2015) — If you&apos;re dealing with anxiety, there are a few foods that can help. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the best foods to tame stress. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Amazon Keeps Its Green Thanks To The Sahara Desert

The Amazon Keeps Its Green Thanks To The Sahara Desert

Newsy (Feb. 25, 2015) — Satellite data shows the Amazon rainforest supports its lush flora with a little help from Sahara Desert dust. Video provided by Newsy
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