Functional Analysis of Protonephridia Genes Identified by Drop-seq


Functional Analysis of Protonephridia Genes Identified by Drop-seq


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Planarians possess a primitive excretory system called protonephridia, which consists of an organized network of branched tubes that function in waste filtration and water regulation. On a cellular and molecular level, the planarian excretory system shows considerable homology to the human excretory system: the kidney. Knowing what genes are necessary for a functional excretory system, how the genes interact, and mechanisms that alter normal gene function leading to disease is critical for the development of treatments for excretory system diseases. Furthermore, understanding flatworm-specific genes, many of which are parasitic to humans, may provide useful drug targets for treating parasitic worm infections.

A recent, significant advancement has been the development of single-cell transcriptomic technologies that allow for the ability to examine gene expression profiles of individual cells (Figure 1). Planarians were the first organism to have these technologies applied to determine the expression profile of all of the animal’s cells (Fincher, 2018). However, only a few of the 3,000 protonephridia genes identified and available via the public database ( were validated by Fincher et al. To further explore the genes required for excretory system function, we have chosen the 48 most highly expressed protonephridia genes from the Fincher 2018 paper to analyze via bioinformatics, RNA mediated interference, and in situ hybridization.


Dr. Ryan King, Biology

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undergraduate, research, collaboration, biology, protonephridia genes

Functional Analysis of Protonephridia Genes Identified by Drop-seq