Tuesday, April 10, 2012
General Biology Seminar
"The cellular and molecular basis for planarian regeneration"
Peter Reddien, Asso. Professor, Biology, MIT
The ability to regenerate missing body parts is one of the great mysteries of biology. Planarians are flatworms and a classic regeneration model system. The regenerative abilities of planarians are dramatic: following decapitation, a new head is regenerated in a week and an entire animal can be regenerated from a tiny body fragment. A newly developed arsenal of molecular tools have turned planarians into a powerful molecular genetic system for in vivo investigation of the replacement of missing cells. We determined that there exist pluripotent stem cells, called cNeoblasts, that persist into adulthood and provide the cellular basis for planarian regeneration. We have identified dozens of genes required in vivo for normal cNeoblast physiology. How do wound sites specify what is missing? We investigate the instructions that guide cNeoblasts for the regeneration of appropriate missing structures.