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      Gene expression profiling of intestinal regeneration in the sea cucumber

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          Among deuterostomes, the regenerative potential is maximally expressed in echinoderms, animals that can quickly replace most injured organs. In particular, sea cucumbers are excellent models for studying organ regeneration since they regenerate their digestive tract after evisceration. However, echinoderms have been sidelined in modern regeneration studies partially because of the lack of genome-wide profiling approaches afforded by modern genomic tools.

          For the last decade, our laboratory has been using the sea cucumber Holothuria glaberrima to dissect the cellular and molecular events that allow for such amazing regenerative processes. We have already established an EST database obtained from cDNA libraries of normal and regenerating intestine at two different regeneration stages. This database now has over 7000 sequences.


          In the present work we used a custom-made microchip from Agilent with 60-mer probes for these ESTs, to determine the gene expression profile during intestinal regeneration. Here we compared the expression profile of animals at three different intestinal regeneration stages (3-, 7- and 14-days post evisceration) against the profile from normal (uneviscerated) intestines. The number of differentially expressed probes ranged from 70% at p < 0.05 to 39% at p < 0.001. Clustering analyses show specific profiles of expression for early (first week) and late (second week) regeneration stages. We used semiquantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to validate the expression profile of fifteen microarray detected differentially expressed genes which resulted in over 86% concordance between both techniques. Most of the differentially expressed ESTs showed no clear similarity to sequences in the databases and might represent novel genes associated with regeneration. However, other ESTs were similar to genes known to be involved in regeneration-related processes, wound healing, cell proliferation, differentiation, morphological plasticity, cell survival, stress response, immune challenge, and neoplastic transformation. Among those that have been validated, cytoskeletal genes, such as actins, and developmental genes, such as Wnt and Hox genes, show interesting expression profiles during regeneration.


          Our findings set the base for future studies into the molecular basis of intestinal regeneration. Moreover, it advances the use of echinoderms in regenerative biology, animals that because of their amazing properties and their key evolutionary position, might provide important clues to the genetic basis of regenerative processes.

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          Most cited references 93

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          Gene Expression Omnibus: NCBI gene expression and hybridization array data repository.

           R. Edgar (2002)
          The Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) project was initiated in response to the growing demand for a public repository for high-throughput gene expression data. GEO provides a flexible and open design that facilitates submission, storage and retrieval of heterogeneous data sets from high-throughput gene expression and genomic hybridization experiments. GEO is not intended to replace in house gene expression databases that benefit from coherent data sets, and which are constructed to facilitate a particular analytic method, but rather complement these by acting as a tertiary, central data distribution hub. The three central data entities of GEO are platforms, samples and series, and were designed with gene expression and genomic hybridization experiments in mind. A platform is, essentially, a list of probes that define what set of molecules may be detected. A sample describes the set of molecules that are being probed and references a single platform used to generate its molecular abundance data. A series organizes samples into the meaningful data sets which make up an experiment. The GEO repository is publicly accessible through the World Wide Web at
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            Cluster analysis and display of genome-wide expression patterns.

            A system of cluster analysis for genome-wide expression data from DNA microarray hybridization is described that uses standard statistical algorithms to arrange genes according to similarity in pattern of gene expression. The output is displayed graphically, conveying the clustering and the underlying expression data simultaneously in a form intuitive for biologists. We have found in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae that clustering gene expression data groups together efficiently genes of known similar function, and we find a similar tendency in human data. Thus patterns seen in genome-wide expression experiments can be interpreted as indications of the status of cellular processes. Also, coexpression of genes of known function with poorly characterized or novel genes may provide a simple means of gaining leads to the functions of many genes for which information is not available currently.
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              Wound healing--aiming for perfect skin regeneration.

               Tamara Martin (1997)
              The healing of an adult skin wound is a complex process requiring the collaborative efforts of many different tissues and cell lineages. The behavior of each of the contributing cell types during the phases of proliferation, migration, matrix synthesis, and contraction, as well as the growth factor and matrix signals present at a wound site, are now roughly understood. Details of how these signals control wound cell activities are beginning to emerge, and studies of healing in embryos have begun to show how the normal adult repair process might be readjusted to make it less like patching up and more like regeneration.

                Author and article information

                BMC Genomics
                BMC Genomics
                BioMed Central
                8 June 2009
                : 10
                : 262
                [1 ]University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, Department of Biology, San Juan, PR, USA
                [2 ]Yale University, Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, New Haven, CT, USA
                [3 ]Universidad del Este- SUAGM, School of Science and Technology, Carolina, PR, USA
                [4 ]University of Puerto Rico, HPCf, High Performance Computing facility, San Juan, PR, USA
                Copyright © 2009 Ortiz-Pineda et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Research Article



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