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Flatworm genes may provide insights into human diseases, researchers say

duced by the reverse transcription of messenger RNA into complementary DNA. Sequencing and categorizing ESTs allow researchers to rapidly identify genes.

Previously sequenced ESTs came from asexual planarians.

Sexual planarians don't develop reproductive structures until after they've reached adulthood, when their stem cells go to work in a process known as epigenetic germ cell specification. Asexual planarians reproduce by transverse fission -- by splitting into pieces and regenerating; they do not develop reproductive structures.

Both planarian strains, however, can regenerate themselves when split. By comparing the machinery of the two strains, basic knowledge about stem and germ cell activity might be enhanced, Newmark said. "Many of the genes in this collection are going to be important for studying stem cell biology and regeneration," he said.

The ESTs identified by Newmark's team came from two developmental stages of S. mediterranea. The 27,000-plus ESTs represent some 10,000 unique transcripts, or individual sequences of RNA. Of 53 genes linked to reproduction, 87 percent were expressed in reproductive organs.


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Contact: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor
jebarlow@uiuc.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
13-Dec-2005


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