A mechanism used by insects in wing regeneration and development is discovered

By TechThop Team

Posted on: 23 Aug, 2022

The wingless gene was first discovered in Drosophila by accident in the 1970s after observing flies without wings, hence its name. The Wnt gene family was founded 15 years after the gene was discovered to be conserved in mammals. The Wnt gene can cause a variety of cancers in people who have mutations in it

It is believed that the wingless gene is a founding member of the Wnt gene family, which regulates several processes during the embryonic development of insects and mammals

In the event that this is true, then why did the first mutation of the wingless gene discovered only affect the wings of Drosophila flies? It was this question that was asked by the Barcelona Development and Growth Control lab of the IRB

In this study, the researchers found an evolutionarily-conserved genomic region that controls Wingless protein expression during wing formation using gene editing techniques, such as CRISPR/Cas9. They discovered that this regulatory region promotes both wing formation and regeneration when damaged using functional assays

In the formation of the wing, this regulatory region is exclusively involved in controlling Wingless expression. As a result of their functional assays, they found two highly redundant modules in this regulatory region that are activated by independent signaling pathways

In our study, we have identified a highly robust genetic regulation mechanism that ensures proper wing development, and this mechanism is consistent with the fundamental importance of these structures to insects in general,' said Dr. Marco Milan, an ICREA researcher, and Head

The Development and Growth Control Laboratory led this study. It was the development of wings that allowed insects to expand and diversify, Dr. Milan explained

The injured cells send signals to their surrounding cells, causing them to divide and repair the organ. As a result of this study, the authors discovered that Wingless activates the regulatory region involved in wing formation in times of damage to stimulate the expression of Wingless and that it also signals healthy cells to divide and regenerate tissues

In addition, the researchers performed experiments in which they blocked the damaged-cell removal process, finding that the Wingless regulatory zone remained activated. As a result of Wingless' constant presence

The cells proliferated uncontrollably, giving rise to tumors and malignant growths. The result suggests that regeneration and tumor development are two sides of the same coin: if Wingless is induced for a short period of time, it forms the wing normally or allows it to regenerate, but if it is repeated repeatedly, it causes overgrowth and tumors', says Dr. Milan

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