One of the absolute wonders of the animal kingdom is the ability of some species to regrow some of their body parts and limbs and even their whole bodies. This has always been a topic of great fascination for scientists, and the secret to this has been the research topic for a recently published study from Harvard University. The researchers have uncovered some DNA switches that appear to be behind the process of whole-body generation. Their work is documented in a March edition of Science.
The Secret to Being Birthed Anew
Many reptiles such as lizards and geckos have been renown for being able to regrow their tails after an unfortunate incident or even dropping their tails on purpose. This can be used as a distraction and defense mechanism. Other lower forms of life in the animal kingdom such as the jellyfish have the amazing ability to regenerate their entire bodies after being sliced in two. Sea anemones and planarian worms can also do this.
Mansi Srivastava is the Assistant Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. She leads the team of researchers who have been looking into the mechanism behind whole-body regeneration. By studying three-banded panther worms collected in Bermuda, they have uncovered what could be the secret gene behind this.
During their research, the team looked at the DNA of the worms as the regeneration took place. They found that the activation of a master control gene launched the process. This control gene is known as the early growth response or EGR. It was itself activated by a particular section of DNA. The EGR has the ability to switch other genes on and off and control many different processes in the bodies of the worms.
The researchers also discovered that the genetic makeup of the worms is quite dynamic. It changes and becomes more open during the regeneration process. The research is also looking to answers why some species can regenerate, and others cannot.