This research, conducted with the flatworm planaria, highlights the genetic similarity between these invertebrates and mammals in the mechanisms by which stem cell regulatory pathways are used during adult tissue maintenance and regeneration.
It is expected that this work may help scientists pursue pharmacological, genetic, and physiological approaches to develop potential therapeutic targets that could repair or prevent abnormal stem cell growth which can lead to cancer.
In recent years, planarians have been recognized as a powerful model system in which to molecularly dissect conserved stem cell regulatory mechanisms in vivo. This research reveals that planaria are also a great model in which to study the molecular relationship between stem cells and cancer. The gene characterized in this study (PTEN) is one of the most commonly mutated genes in human cancers. As in human beings, genetic disturbance of the gene in planarians led to mis-regulation of cell proliferation resulting in cancer-like characteristics. These results indicate that some of the pattern control mechanisms that enable regeneration of complex structures may go awry in cancer.
Abnormal stem cell proliferation in planarians is induced by genetic manipulation of conserved cellular signaling pathways. These abnormal cells can be specifically targeted without disturbing normal stem cell functions that support adult tissue homeostasis and regeneration. Importantly, this type of analysis could not be achieved in more traditional adult invertebrate model systems such as the fruit fly Drosophila and the nematode C. elegans. This research will be published in the journal Disease Models & Mechanisms available online on August 30. According to the paper's lead author, Dr. Néstor J. Oviedo, an Assistant Research Investigator in the Forsyth Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology, this work provides new opportunities to expand knowledge of this regulatory molecule and the role it plays in cancer and tissue regeneration. "Our findings demonstrate that important signaling pathways regulating adult stem cell proliferation, migration and differentiation are evolutionarily and functionally conserved between planarians and mammals. Planarians are poised to not only advance the understanding of how diverse adult tissues are functionally maintained in vivo, but also will enhance our capabilities to identify, prevent, and remediate abnormal stem cell proliferation." Summary of Study
The scientists have identified two genes, Smed-PTEN-1 and Smed-PTEN-2, capable of regulating stem cell function in the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea. Both genes encode proteins homologous to the mammalian tumor suppressor, phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN). Inactivation of Smed-PTEN-1and -2 by RNA interference (RNAi) in planarians disrupts regeneration, and leads to abnormal outgrowths in both cut and uncut animals followed soon after by death (lysis). The resulting phenotype is characterized by hyperproliferation of neoblasts (planarian stem cells), tissue disorganization and a significant accumulation of postmitotic cells with impaired differentiation capacity. Further analyses revealed that rapamycin selectively prevented such accumulation without affecting the normal neoblast proliferation associated with physiological turnover and regeneration. In animals in which PTEN function is abrogated, the HHMI/University of Utah and Forsyth researchers also detected a significant increase in the number of cells expressing the planarian Akt gene homolog (Smed-Akt). However, functional abrogation of Smed-Akt in Smed-PTENRNAi-treated animals does not prevent cell overproliferation and lethality, indicating that functional abrogation of Smed-PTEN is sufficient to induce abnormal outgrowths. Altogether, the data reveal roles for PTEN in the regulation of planarian stem cells that are strikingly conserved to mammalian models. In addition, the results implicate this protein in the control of stem cell maintenance during the regeneration of complex structures in planarians.
The PTEN molecules were originally identified and characterized in the laboratory of Dr. Alejandro Sanchez Alvarado, HHMI investigator and Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Dr. Sánchez Alvarado's is the paper's senior author. His laboratory is engaged in the identification of the molecular and cellular basis of animal regeneration. His laboratory's work on planarians has led to the establishment of this organism as an important model system to study stem cells, regeneration and tissue homeostasis.
The Forsyth research team is led by Michael Levin, Ph.D., Senior Member of the Staff in The Forsyth Institute and the Director of the Forsyth Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology. Through experimental approaches and mathematical modeling, Dr. Levin and his group examine the processes governing large-scale pattern formation and biological information storage during animal embryogenesis. The lab investigates mechanisms of signaling between cells and tissues that allow a living system to reliably generate and maintain a complex morphology. The Levin team studies these processes in the context of embryonic development and regeneration, with a particular focus on the biophysics of cell behavior.
Designer cells: artificial enzyme can activate a gene switch
22.05.2018 | Universität Basel
Flow of cerebrospinal fluid regulates neural stem cell division
22.05.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
22.05.2018 | Life Sciences
22.05.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News