Congratulations to Priscilla and Farah

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Finally after what seems the longest time the lab has published our paper on the single methyl biding domain (MBD) protein in the genome of the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea. This paper represents a lot of work by a lot of different people in the lab and by collaborators, but mainly by two graduate students Dr Priscilla Lo and Dr Farah Jaber-Hijazi.

This is an exciting paper as it appears that the function of the planarian MBD maybe analagous the function of MBD3 in regulating pluripotency in mice. Loss of MBD interupts the ability of pluripotent planarian stem cells to make many cell types, but not all. In addition some stem cell progeny are produced correctly while others are depleted.

The published paper is open access and you can get straight to it here

The highlights of the paper are as folows:

– A single ancestral MBD2/3 protein is present in the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea.

– The genome of S. mediterranea does not have pervasive cytosine methylation.

– MBD2/3 is required for pluripotent stem cell differentiation down multiple but not all cell lineages.

– MBD2/3 may have had an ancestral role in regulating stem cell pluripotency.

Significantly other recent studies are somewhat contradictory as to whether DNA methylation is present in any species of flatworm. Out study did not find eveidence of mehylation in S. mediterranea. It will be interesting to see how this controversy is resolved. It seems likely that methylation maybe present in some flatworms, probably at levels that are very dificult to detect, and probably not in a reproducible pattern across flatworm genomes as a whole