Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Flatworm genes may provide insights into human diseases, researchers say

14.12.2005


Could vital information about many human diseases be deciphered from genes inside freshwater flatworms? A definitive yes is not the answer yet, but research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has provided an important advance for pursuing both that idea and the biology of stem cells.



In a paper appearing on line this week ahead of regular publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers report the sequencing and analysis of 27,161 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) of the sexually reproducing strain of the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea.

Not only were 66 percent of them similar to sequences already in public databases, the researchers found 142 of 287 genes associated with human diseases. Because the ESTs they studied represent only about one-half of the total, "it seems likely that the vast majority of human disease genes will have homologues in planarians," the scientists wrote.


"One of the striking things we found is that when we look at planarian genes, we see a group that is conserved between planarians and mammals that is not found in Drosophila or C. elegans," said Phillip A. Newmark, a professor of cell and developmental biology at Illinois. "We speculate that these conserved sequences may play roles in processes such as long-term tissue maintenance and cell turnover that are likely less important for short-lived organisms like nematodes and insects," wrote Newmark and colleagues.

Drosophila melanogaster and C. elegans (Caenorhabditis elegans) are standard model invertebrates used in biology. "The fact that they don’t have some of the genes that planarians share with mammals says that planarians will be an important, complementary model for studying gene function," Newmark said.

On a more basic level, the work by Newmark and colleagues will aid the planarian genome-sequencing project being done at Washington University in St. Louis.

ESTs are short sequences of DNA produced by the reverse transcription of messenger RNA into complementary DNA. Sequencing and categorizing ESTs allow researchers to rapidly identify genes.

Previously sequenced ESTs came from asexual planarians.

Sexual planarians don’t develop reproductive structures until after they’ve reached adulthood, when their stem cells go to work in a process known as epigenetic germ cell specification. Asexual planarians reproduce by transverse fission -- by splitting into pieces and regenerating; they do not develop reproductive structures.

Both planarian strains, however, can regenerate themselves when split. By comparing the machinery of the two strains, basic knowledge about stem and germ cell activity might be enhanced, Newmark said. "Many of the genes in this collection are going to be important for studying stem cell biology and regeneration," he said.

The ESTs identified by Newmark’s team came from two developmental stages of S. mediterranea. The 27,000-plus ESTs represent some 10,000 unique transcripts, or individual sequences of RNA. Of 53 genes linked to reproduction, 87 percent were expressed in reproductive organs.

Jim Barlow | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uiuc.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists enlist engineered protein to battle the MERS virus
22.05.2017 | University of Toronto

nachricht Insight into enzyme's 3-D structure could cut biofuel costs
19.05.2017 | DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

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...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

Im Focus: Hydrogen Bonds Directly Detected for the First Time

For the first time, scientists have succeeded in studying the strength of hydrogen bonds in a single molecule using an atomic force microscope. Researchers from the University of Basel’s Swiss Nanoscience Institute network have reported the results in the journal Science Advances.

Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and is an integral part of almost all organic compounds. Molecules and sections of macromolecules are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

Media accreditation opens for historic year at European Health Forum Gastein

16.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New approach to revolutionize the production of molecular hydrogen

22.05.2017 | Materials Sciences

Scientists enlist engineered protein to battle the MERS virus

22.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Experts explain origins of topographic relief on Earth, Mars and Titan

22.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>