Sunday, October 22, 2017
The Sea Cucumber Genome Points to Genes for Tissue Regeneration
Researchers Xiaojun Zhang, Lina Sun, Hongsheng Yang, and Jianhai Xiang of the Institute of Oceanology were fascinated by the sea cucumber. The sea cucumber, described as a "close cousin to vertebrates," is an echinoderm that has the ability to regenerate its damaged tissue. The researchers found 92% of the sea cucumber's genome sequence to to help explain its capacity to regrow its body parts. The researchers discovered that the sea cucumber lacked genes that form calcified exoskeletons in echinoderms, and they also found that the sea cucumbers did not express many genes for biomineralization. Both of these discoveries attribute to the sea cucumber's soft bodies compared to other echinoderms. The researchers also found a number of duplicated genes in the sea cucumber genome. These genes were thought to be related to the sea cucumber's quick regeneration of viscera, since these genes were not found in other echinoderms.
I found this article interesting because the researchers stated that the the sea cucumber is a "particularly promising model animal for regenerative medicine." This means that there is definitely room for research in this area, especially on how biologists can apply these discoveries to advancement in human medicine.