1887

Making Heads or Tails: Planarian Stem Cells in the Classroom

    Authors: Melissa C. Srougi1,*, Jackie Thomas-Swanik3, John D. Chan4, Jonathan S. Marchant4, Susan Carson1,2
    VIEW AFFILIATIONS HIDE AFFILIATIONS
    Affiliations: 1: Biotechnology Program, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695; 2: Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695; 3: Wake Technical Community College, Raleigh, NC 27603; 4: Department of Pharmacology and The Stem Cell Institute, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN 55455
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 01 May 2014
    • Supplemental materials available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Biotechnology Program, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695. Tel: 919-513-3155. Fax: 919-515-4231. E-mail: [email protected].
    • ©2014 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2014 vol. 15 no. 1 18-25. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v15i1.692
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    Abstract:

    Stem cells hold great promise in the treatment of diseases ranging from cancer to dementia. However, as rapidly as the field of stem cell biology has emerged, heated political debate has followed, scrutinizing the ethical implications of stem cell use. It is therefore imperative to promote scientific literacy by educating students about stem cell biology. Yet, there is a definite lack of material to engage students in this subject at the basic science level. Therefore, we have developed and implemented a hands-on introductory laboratory module that introduces students to stem cell biology and can be easily incorporated into existing curricula. Students learn about stem cell biology using an planarian model system in which they down-regulate two genes important in stem cell differentiation using RNA interference and then observe the regenerative phenotype. The module was piloted at the high school, community college, and university levels. Here, we report that introductory biology students enrolled at a community college were able to demonstrate gains in learning after completion of a one-hour lecture and four 45-minute laboratory sessions over the course of three weeks. These gains in learning outcomes were objectively evaluated both before and after its execution using a student quiz and experimental results. Furthermore, students’ self-assessments revealed increases in perceived knowledge as well as a general interest in stem cells. Therefore, these data suggest that this module is a simple, useful way to engage and to teach students about stem cell biology.

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References & Citations

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2. Burnett JC, Rossi JJ, Tiemann K 2011 Current progress of siRNA/shRNA therapeutics in clinical trials Biotechnol J 6 1130 1146 21744502 3388104
3. Chan JD, Marchant JS 2011 Pharmacological and functional genetic assays to manipulate regeneration of the planarian Dugesia japonica J. Vis. Exp 54 pii 3058 10.3791/3058 http://dx.doi.org/10.3791/3058
4. Emmert EA, Biosafety ASMTCoL 2013 Biosafety guidelines for handling microorganisms in the teaching laboratory: development and rationale J Microbiol Biol Educ 14 78 83 10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.531 23858356 3706168 http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.531
5. Evans MJ, Kaufman MH 1981 Establishment in culture of pluripotential cells from mouse embryos Nature 292 154 156 10.1038/292154a0 7242681 http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/292154a0
6. Gurley KA, Rink JC, Alvarado A Sanchez 2008 Beta-catenin defines head versus tail identity during planarian regeneration and homeostasis Science 319 323 327 10.1126/science.1150029 http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1150029
7. Handberg-Thorsager M, Fernandez E, Salo E 2008 Stem cells and regeneration in planarians Front Biosci 13 6374 6394 10.2741/3160 18508666 http://dx.doi.org/10.2741/3160
8. Hynes RO 2008 US policies on human embryonic stem cells Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 9 993 997 10.1038/nrm2528 18843274 http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nrm2528
9. Jones DL, Wagers AJ 2008 No place like home: anatomy and function of the stem cell niche Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 9 11 21 10.1038/nrm2319 http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nrm2319
10. Mannini L, et al 2004 Djeyes absent (Djeya) controls prototypic planarian eye regeneration by cooperating with the transcription factor Djsix-1 Dev Biol 269 346 359 10.1016/j.ydbio.2004.01.042 15110705 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2004.01.042
11. Martin GR 1981 Isolation of a pluripotent cell line from early mouse embryos cultured in medium conditioned by teratocarcinoma stem cells Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 78 7634 7638 10.1073/pnas.78.12.7634 6950406 349323 http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.78.12.7634
12. Newmark PA, Reddien PW, Cebria F, Alvarado A Sanchez 2003 Ingestion of bacterially expressed double-stranded RNA inhibits gene expression in planarians Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A 100 Suppl 1 11861 11865 10.1073/pnas.1834205100 12917490 304099 http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1834205100
13. Oviedo NJ, Nicolas CL, Adams DS, Levin M 2008 Establishing and maintaining a colony of planarians CSH Protoc 2008 pdb.prot5053
14. Oviedo NJ, Nicolas CL, Adams DS, Levin M 2008 Planarians: a versatile and powerful model system for molecular studies of regeneration, adult stem cell regulation, aging, and behavior CSH Protoc 2008 pdb.emo101
15. Petersen CP, Reddien PW 2008 Smedbetacatenin-1 is required for anteroposterior blastema polarity in planarian regeneration Science 319 327 330 10.1126/science.1149943 http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1149943
16. Seymour E, Wiese DJ, Hunter A, Daffinrud SM 2000 Creating a better mousetrap: on-line student assessment of their learning gains National Meetings of the American Chemical Society Symposium Bureau of Sociological Research, University of Colorado Boulder, CO
17. Sylvester KG, Longaker MT 2004 Stem cells: review and update Arch Surg 139 93 99 10.1001/archsurg.139.1.93 14718284 http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/archsurg.139.1.93
18. Tanner K, Chatman LS, Allen D 2003 Approaches to cell biology teaching: cooperative learning in the science classroom—beyond students working in groups Cell Biol Educ 2 20 10.1187/cbe.03-03-0010 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.03-03-0010
19. Weissman IL 2002 Stem cells—scientific, medical, and political issues New Engl J Med 346 1576 1579 10.1056/NEJMsb020693 http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMsb020693
20. Zhang D, Chan JD, Nogi T, Marchant JS 2011 Opposing roles of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels in neuronal control of regenerative patterning J Neurosci 31 15983 15995 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3029-11.2011 22049441 3380623 http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3029-11.2011

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2014-05-01
2019-06-18

Abstract:

Stem cells hold great promise in the treatment of diseases ranging from cancer to dementia. However, as rapidly as the field of stem cell biology has emerged, heated political debate has followed, scrutinizing the ethical implications of stem cell use. It is therefore imperative to promote scientific literacy by educating students about stem cell biology. Yet, there is a definite lack of material to engage students in this subject at the basic science level. Therefore, we have developed and implemented a hands-on introductory laboratory module that introduces students to stem cell biology and can be easily incorporated into existing curricula. Students learn about stem cell biology using an planarian model system in which they down-regulate two genes important in stem cell differentiation using RNA interference and then observe the regenerative phenotype. The module was piloted at the high school, community college, and university levels. Here, we report that introductory biology students enrolled at a community college were able to demonstrate gains in learning after completion of a one-hour lecture and four 45-minute laboratory sessions over the course of three weeks. These gains in learning outcomes were objectively evaluated both before and after its execution using a student quiz and experimental results. Furthermore, students’ self-assessments revealed increases in perceived knowledge as well as a general interest in stem cells. Therefore, these data suggest that this module is a simple, useful way to engage and to teach students about stem cell biology.

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Figures

Image of FIGURE 1.

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FIGURE 1.

Overview of experimental plan.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2014 vol. 15 no. 1 18-25. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v15i1.692
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Image of FIGURE 2.

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FIGURE 2.

Trunk fragment regeneration assay. Images were taken 7 days after excision. A) Image of a planarian fed a control dsRNAi construct. B) Reduced eyespots formed by RNAi. C) Bipolar planarian produced by RNAi. Note the formation of a secondary head structure and posterior eyespots. In A–C, the original anterior end of the worms is oriented to the bottom. Arrow indicates site of excision and double arrow denotes reduced eyespots. Representative students’ images of planarian with an observed phenotype are shown.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2014 vol. 15 no. 1 18-25. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v15i1.692
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Image of FIGURE 3.

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FIGURE 3.

Students demonstrated gains in learning after taking the Stem Cells Module. Questions from the pre- and post- quiz were grouped based on learning outcomes they primarily addressed. Shown are average student results from both Wake Technical Community College (WTCC) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH).

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2014 vol. 15 no. 1 18-25. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v15i1.692
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Image of FIGURE 4.

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FIGURE 4.

Student self-assessment of learning gains. Ratings from the A) pre- and B) post- questionnaires for each semester were scored and averaged. Students were asked to rate their current levels of competence or knowledge for each conceptual or technical skill listed on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 = strongly disagree, 2 = disagree, 3 = neither agree nor disagree, 4 = agree, and 5 = strongly agree.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2014 vol. 15 no. 1 18-25. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v15i1.692
Download as Powerpoint

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