Uncovering the secrets of animals’ regenerative ability, scientists have discovered that some genetic programming has been passed on to humans.
Scientists have some new insight into the workings of one of the few animals that could arguably live forever.
Hydra are small creatures related to jellyfish, having simple bodies made of a cylindrical tube called a body column with a head structure at the top and a sticky leg at the opposite end to hold it in place. uses for. The remarkable thing about Hydra is that they don’t seem to age due to some incredible regenerative powers. Take a bite off a hydra head and it grows right back.
This process has long been a source of fascination for researchers who are eager to understand how it works down to the genetic level. A new study published Wednesday in Genome Biology & Evolution details how a hydra’s genes are regulated — also known as epigenetics — to allow it to grow back and always keep heads up.
An important finding is that the process of head regeneration differs from the one for reproduction, which occurs through an asexual process called “budding”. Hydra reproduce by forming “buds” along the body column that eventually grow into a new, independent animal with its own head.
“Although the outcome is similar (a hydra head), gene expression during regeneration is much more variable,” says Ed Macias-Munoz, a biologist at the University of California Irvine and lead author of the paper.
The study provides some new insights into the processes behind regeneration, a mystery to scientists. It was found that hydra use sequences of DNA called “enhancers” that control regeneration at the genetic level.
Macias-Munoz says this was new information to scientists, suggesting that some of the mechanisms the use of hydra had been passed down through evolution, and even extended it to mammals, including humans. may have been turned down.
This prompts some fascinating questions. If some of the genetic programming allowing Hydra to reproduce was passed on to humans, would the fountain of youth exist in the guts of our own cells, just waiting to be tapped?
Unfortunately, we’re still far from being able to answer such broad consequential questions, but Macias-Munoz and his colleagues believe digging deeper into the genomes of Hydra and other species can help them find that There is an important step down the road.