"Regeneration and embryonic development have in common that they result in fully functional tissues and organisms. Some species are able to regrow entire organisms from small fragments, while others are able to regenerate only specific structures, tissues or cell types. What are the molecular underlying regeneration? What is the degree of conservation between regeneration and embryonic development? What are the molecular reasons for differences in regenerative capacities between organisms? Are these differences linked to the embryonic history of each species? How is regeneration triggered in response to internal or external stresses? How are regeneration capacities impaired during aging? Can we increase the regeneration capacities of tissues by re-deploying an early developmental program?
With the enhancement of modern genomics, regeneration biology has become a re-emerging field of interest, allowing to revisit the relationships between regeneration, embryogenesis, stress response, stem cell biology, aging and cancer. Due to the lack of accessibility to embryonic material in the main whole body regeneration models, the question about the molecular relationship between regeneration and early development remains largely unanswered.
An emerging concept that is central to my project is that embryonic developmental processes are re-used during regeneration. Specifically, I propose to functionally reconstruct the gene regulatory networks underlying regeneration in the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis, that possesses all required attributes for the proposed work, using genomics and functional techniques such as morpholino based knockdown approaches in the adult.
The generation of high quality molecular data from a uniquely suitable species will provide basic information about the molecular events underlying regeneration and allow direct comparisons between regeneration, embryogenesis, stress response and aging events within the same animal."
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