The role of piRNAs in planarian regeneration
Planarian flatworms possess fantastic regenerative abilities that can be attributed to the presence of stem cells all across their body. Intriguingly, a particular class of small non-coding RNA, so-called piRNAs, are essential for proper stem cell function and hence regeneration. However, how piRNAs contribute to regeneration is not understood. This is why we study the role of planarian piRNAs during regeneration. We employ biochemical techniques paired with next-generation sequencing, immunostaining and in vivo RNA interference.
Our work will establish how small ncRNAs contribute to the pluripotency of stem cells. In addition, understanding the role of piRNAs during planarian regeneration will facilitate attempts to grow human organs from stem cells.
Isolation of planarian piRNAs.
Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, MO, USA