Salamanders and fish possess genes that can enable healing of damaged tissue and even regrowth of missing limbs. The key to regeneration lies not only in the genes, but in the DNA sequences that regulate expression of those genes in response to an injury. Researchers have discovered regulatory sequences that they call ’tissue regeneration enhancer elements’ or TREEs, which can turn on genes in injury sites.
Over the last decade, researchers have identified dozens of regeneration genes in organisms like zebrafish, flies, and mice. For example, one molecule called neuregulin 1 can make heart muscle cells proliferate and others called fibroblast growth factors can promote the regeneration of a severed fin. Yet, Poss says, what has not been explored are the regulatory elements that turn these genes on in injured tissue, keep them on during regeneration, and then turn them off when regeneration is done. More. Paper.v (paywall)
It might mean hope for humans with damaged limbs.
Much may depend on seeing the genome and its expression as a language, not a box of marbles.
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