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Study: There is a strange genetic link between humans and sea anemones

Study: There is a strange genetic link between humans and sea anemones

Sunday – 9 Ramadan 1443 AH – 10 April 2022 AD

London: «Middle East Online»

A recent study published on the scientific website “eLife” found that a strange genetic link between humans and sea anemones has just been confirmed; A gene linked to the development of hearing in humans has also been linked to sensory development in sea anemones, according to the Science Alert website.
According to the site, the recent study indicated that the gene can be found; Called pou-iv (pow-four), the tentacled sea anemone (Nematostella vectensis) plays an important role in the animal’s sense of touch.
And Cnidaria, the branch to which sea anemones belong, is closest to Bilateria, animals with bilateral symmetry such as humans, which differ from their last common ancestor, which lived about 748 to 604 million years ago.
In this context, the discovery of the gene’s role in the star sea anemones suggests that it was present in their common ancestor and likely played a role in sensory development at the time as well.
This study is exciting because it not only opens up a new avenue of research into how sea anemones develop and work mechanics; But it also teaches us that the building blocks of our sense of hearing have evolutionary roots that go back hundreds of millions, says biologist Nagyasu Nakanishi of the University of Arkansas in the US; which asserts, “In humans and other vertebrates, the sensory receptors of the auditory system are called hair cells; These cells contain bundles of finger-like organelles called striocelli that sense mechanical stimuli; They are vibrations that we hear as sounds. In mammals, pou-iv is essential for hair cell growth; We know this because the mice that were taken out of the pou-iv are deaf. Sea anemones have similar mechanical sensory hair cells on their tentacles, which are used to sense movement. However, little was known about the pou-iv gene of the anemone and what role, if any, it played in sensory development.
A team of researchers led by biologist Ethan Osment of the University of Arkansas wanted to know what the gene does. The best way to do this is to disrupt the gene with the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool and to monitor the changes; Which is what the team did; He injected a cocktail containing the Cas9 protein into fertilized sea anemone eggs to cut the pou-iv gene and then studied the developing embryos, as well as the transgenic anemone.
Compared with wild-type anemones, the mutant animals showed abnormal development of tentacle hair cells, and showed no response to touch. without pou-iv. Anemones were unable to sense mechanical stimuli through their hair cells. Additionally, elimination of pou-iv in anemones inactivated a gene very similar to the polycystin 1 gene found in vertebrates; It is needed to sense the flow of fluid in the kidneys. Anemones may not have kidneys, but sensing fluid flow may be useful for marine animals.
The researchers conclude, “The results indicate that pou-iv played a role in the development of mechanosensory cells in the common ancestor of Cnidaria and Bilateria.” And to trace the gene further would require data from other phyla with previous points of divergence.
“Our results indicate that the role of pou-iv in mechanoreceptor development is broadly conserved across Cnidaria and Bilateria…
The role of early pou-iv in mechanoreceptor differentiation in animal development remains unresolved, and comparative data from placozoans and sponges is required.”



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