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
Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University
How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy