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Limb regrowth key not in genes but DNA sequence

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zebrafish regenerating heart, fin/Junsu Kang, Duke University

From ScienceDaily:

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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4 Replies to “Limb regrowth key not in genes but DNA sequence

  1. 1
    hrun0815 says:

    This headline once again underscores the stunning lack of biological understanding at UD. I guess “News” is not such a prominent contributor here, so probably nobody will care, right?

  2. 2
    Mung says:

    Are you saying the genome is a box of marbles?

  3. 3
    hrun0815 says:

    Do the words ‘genome’, ‘box’, or ‘marbles’ appear in the headline?

  4. 4
    Origenes says:

    ScienceDaily: (…) humans lost much of their regenerative power over millions of years of evolution.

    Maybe so, however the regenerative power we do have works in mysterious ways.

    Surgery is war. It is impossible to envisage the sheer complexity of what happens within a surgical wound. It is a microscopical scene of devastation. Muscle cells have been crudely crushed, nerves ripped asunder; the scalpel blade has slashed and separated close communities of tissues, rupturing long-established networks of blood vessels. After the operation, broken and cut tissues are crushed together by the surgeon’s crude clamps. There is no circulation of blood or lymph across the suture.

    Yet within seconds of the assault, the single cells are stirred into action. They use unimaginable senses to detect what has happened and start to respond. Stem cells specialize to become the spiky-looking cells of the stratum spinosum; the shattered capillaries are meticulously repaired, new cells form layers of smooth muscle in the blood-vessel walls and neat endothelium; nerve fibres extend towards the site of the suture to restore the tactile senses . . . These phenomena require individual cells to work out what they need to do. And the ingenious restoration of the blood-vessel network reveals that there is an over-arching sense of the structure of the whole area in which this remarkable repair takes place. So too does the restoration of the skin. Cells that carry out the repair are subtly coordinated so that the skin surface, the contour of which they cannot surely detect, is restored in a form that is close to perfect.
    [Brian Ford 2009]

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