Insight from invertebrate models

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

Has anyone in this forum worked on translating findings from invertebrates to mammals? I'm wondering how successful this tends to be. How often are actual gene sequences conserved? When the genes are conserved, how often do they have the same function across systems? Or is the most valuable part of invertebrate research (in terms of implications to mammalian research) the "insight" (whatever that means) gained from the better control of the system we usually have in invertebrates?

I once took a class from a rather famous invertebrate biologist who had a pretty disdainful attitude toward research done in mammals. I wonder how widespread this view is among people who work on invertebrates.

If I remember correctly, In the study of circadian rhythms. A bunch of genes were implicated first in Drosophila, though one of the critical ones for the way the system works in Drosophila was first found in mice. It turned out that a lot of the same genes were involved in both systems. However, the overall functioning of the circadian rhythm system seemed pretty different between them despite similar genes being involved.

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Andy Resnick
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
Other groups working on similar problems to mine (mechanosensation and the cilia) use Clamydomonas (an algae) as a model system. The relevant genes (ciliary/flagellar) are remarkably conserved and have the same functions.

In the end, NIH funds research towards solving human diseases. Use of invertebrate models in this context is useful because some aspect of the system is simple- culture conditions, for example.

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