Scientists Discover Gene That Helps Decapitated Flatworms Regrow Heads
Posted on July 8, 2014
Scientists have discovered the gene that helps decapitated flatworms regrow their heads. The gene is called zic-1. Scientists discovered through lab experiments that flatworms cannot regrow their heads if the gene is deactivated. The above photograph shows a flatworm planarian that successfully regrew a head on the left and a flatworm that failed to regrow a head because the scientists deactivated its zic-1 gene.
The discovery was made by Professor Christian Petersen and Ph.D. student Constanza Vásquez-Doorman of Northwestern University. A first step to uncovering the mystery behind the regeneration process came from Petersen's previous research. This research identified Notum, a secreted protein, as crucial to head regeneration. In the new study, the researchers found that expression of the Notum protein and head regeneration requires the zic-1 gene. The researchers believe it is likely that the zic-1 gene acts as a transcription factor to produce cells that secrete Notum.
A research paper on the zic-1 gene in planarians was published here in the journal, PLoS Genetics.
Photo: Dr. Christian Petersen
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