The research, led by Tufts Professor of Biology Michael Levin, Ph.D., is reported in the Jan. 28, 2011, issue of the journal Chemistry & Biology, appearing online Jan. 27.
"This study has uncovered a previously unknown role for bioelectric signals in patterning tissues in flatworms, an important model system for understanding the basic mechanisms of regeneration," said Susan Haynes, Ph.D., who manages Levin's and other developmental biology grants at the National Institutes of Health. "The findings suggest that control of ion channels by pharmacological agents could be a useful approach in developing regenerative therapies for tissues and organs lost to injury or disease."
The Tufts study provides critical insights into how an injured organism determines that it has deviated from normal patterning and how it then restores the missing parts--providing precisely the amount and type of tissue necessary and avoiding overgrowth or cancer.
"Our and others’ previous research indicated that it is possible to trigger the process of regeneration by bioelectric means, but no one had yet shown that it is possible to actually determine what part regenerates by targeted changes in the function of ion channel and pump proteins that control transmembrane voltage potential," said Levin. "Once we understand this more fully, we hope to be able to induce human bodies to do the same."
Co-authors with Levin on the paper were three members of his laboratory: Wendy Scott Beane, Ph.D., post doctoral associate; Junji Morokuma, research associate; and Dany Spencer Adams, Ph.D., research associate professor.Chemical Genetics
Such a drug-based "chemical genetics" approach avoids the need to regulate each signaling pathway and epigenetic mechanism individually and circumvents the difficulties of transgenes.
Flatworms have a complex central nervous system, a true brain and a well-defined adult stem cell population. They share a significant number of genes with vertebrates. The adult worms have remarkable powers of regeneration: any piece that is cut off will regrow, including the brain.Two Heads Better than One?
Further, when the biologists used ivermectin independently of H,K,-ATPase to effect depolarization, the planarian fragments also regenerated new heads. This was true even for posterior wounds, which would normally regrow tails. The induction of the same tissue pattern by completely different means that have in common only their control of membrane voltage underscores the crucial nature of voltage gradient as a physiological parameter controlling regeneration.
The biologists also reported that treatment of wounded tissue with the H,K-ATPase inhibitor SCH 28080 for 72 hours hyperpolarized the tissue and stopped head regeneration.
The researchers concluded that pharmacologically induced changes in membrane voltage are enough to trigger an entire morphogenetic program -- head regeneration -- downstream of stem cell proliferation, and serve as a master regulator of a complex patterning cascade.Unique Research Focus
Research funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
"A Chemical Genetics Approach Reveals H,K-ATPase-Mediated Membrane Voltage is Required for Planarian Head Regeneration," Chemistry & Biology, Jan. 28, 2011, Wendy Scott Beane; Junji Morokuma; Dany Spencer Adams; Michael Levin.
Tufts University, located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville, and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university is widely encouraged.
Kim Thurler | Newswise Science News
Could this protein protect people against coronary artery disease?
17.11.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care
Microbial resident enables beetles to feed on a leafy diet
17.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine
17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses