Making heads in regeneration-deficient planarians

The august 1, 2013 issue of the journal “Nature” featured papers from three independent research groups that threw some light on the question “… why are some planarians species better at regeneration than others?” I will soon post a layperson-friendly translation of these papers. (:-)

regeneration in nature

One of the many fascinating questions about regeneration is why some animals can regenerate and others not. In this sense, several times in this blog I have pointed out the importance of comparative studies between closely related species with different regenerative capabilities. Last week three independent studies from the laboratories of Phil Newmark (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23883929), Jochen Rink (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23883932) and Kiyokazu Agata (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23883928) published in Nature, reported the recovery of head regrowth in regeneration-deficient planarians after silencing a particular signalling pathway.

Freshwater planarians are among the champions of regeneration as they can regenerate a whole animal (including a complete, functional central nervous system) from a tiny piece of their bodies. However, not all planarian species show the same regenerative competence. One striking observation is that several species can regrow a new head when amputated pre-pharyngeally (in planarians, the pharynx is located in the mid-body region), but…

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