In a study in the March 15 issue of Science Magazine, Mansi Srivastava and lab members Andrew Gehrke, Emily Neverett, Yi-Jyun Luo, Lorenzo Ricci (Postdocs) and Ryan Hulett (PhD student) shed light on how some animals have the amazing ability to regenerate and uncovered a number of DNA switches that appear to control genes for whole-body regeneration.
The team used three-banded panther worms to test the process and discovered a section of noncoding DNA controls the activation of a "master control gene" called early growth response (EGR). Once active, EGR controls a number of other processes by switching other genes on or off.
In order to understand the panther worm's genome, Gehrke and Srivasta had to undertake the great task of assembling its sequence. In doing so, they were able to release the genome of the species, which is the first from this phylum. Until this study, no full genome sequence was available. The New York Times, The Harvard Gazette