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Title: MicroRNAs and the canonical microRNA biogenesis pathway in the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea
Author: Arseni, Varvara
Awarding Body: University of Nottingham
Current Institution: University of Nottingham
Date of Award: 2012
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miRNAs are an important class of small non-protein coding RNAs whose specific functions in animals are rapidly being elucidated. miRNAs regulate the expression of many animal genes by post-transcriptional gene silencing and play vital roles in stem cell maintenance, differentiation and apoptosis. In this study, planarians were used as a model system in order to study whether miRNAs have a regulatory role in their stem cell dynamics. Planarians are well known for their remarkable regenerative ability and their amazing capacity for constant re-patterning owing to a population of somatic pluripotent stem cells known as neoblasts. In particular, the aim of the study was to investigate the regulatory role miRNAs may have in planarian stem cell self renewal, proliferation and differentiation. Recently, the differential spatial patterns of expression of miRNAs in whole and regenerating planarians have been characterized by in situ hybridization to nascent miRNA transcripts. These miRNA expression patterns were the first to be determined for a Lophotrocozoan animal. The expression patterns of 42 miRNAs in adult planarians have been characterized, constituting a complete range of tissue specific expression patterns. The majority of planarian miRNAs were expressed either in areas where stem cells (neoblasts) are located and/or in the nervous system. Some miRNAs were definitively expressed in stem cells and dividing cells and moreover miRNAs were found to be expressed in germ stem cells of the sexual strain. Taken the facts that cellular proliferation and differentiation must be controlled during planarian regeneration and tissue homeostasis as well as that miRNAs have been implicated in the control stem cell functions in other organisms, aim of this study was to disrupt the canonical miRNA biosynthesis pathway. In that way, information about the global impact of miRNA regulation in planarian regeneration and tissue homeostasis would be gained.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available