[GRG] researchers discover genetic ‘recipe’ for limb regeneration in lizards

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Contact: Sandra Leander
sandra.leander@asu.edu
480-965-9865
Arizona State University

How lizards regenerate their tails: researchers discover genetic
‘recipe’

Finding may impact future therapies for spinal cord injuries

IMAGE: The green anole lizard (Anolis carolinensis), when caught
by a predator, can lose its tail and then grow it back. Researchers
have discovered the genetic ‘recipe’ as to how this…

Click here for more information.

TEMPE, Ariz. – By understanding the secret of how lizards
regenerate their tails, researchers may be able to develop ways to
stimulate the regeneration of limbs in humans. Now, a team of
researchers from Arizona State University is one step closer to
solving that mystery. The scientists have discovered the genetic
“recipe” for lizard tail regeneration, which may come down to using
genetic ingredients in just the right mixture and amounts.

An interdisciplinary team of scientists used next-generation
molecular and computer analysis tools to examine the genes turned
on in tail regeneration. The team studied the regenerating tail of
the green anole lizard (Anolis carolinensis), which when caught by
a predator, can lose its tail and then grow it back.

The findings are published today in the journal PLOS ONE.

“Lizards basically share the same toolbox of genes as humans,” said
lead author Kenro Kusumi, professor in ASU’s School of Life
Sciences and associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and
Sciences. “Lizards are the most closely-related animals to humans
that can regenerate entire appendages. We discovered that they turn
on at least 326 genes in specific regions of the regenerating tail,
including genes involved in embryonic development, response to
hormonal signals and wound healing.”

IMAGE: Arizona State University researchers discovered that green
anole lizards turn on at least 326 genes in specific regions of the
regenerating tail, including genes involved in embryonic
development, response to…

Click here for more information.

Other animals, such as salamanders, frog tadpoles and fish, can
also regenerate their tails, with growth mostly at the tip. During
tail regeneration, they all turn on genes in what is called the
‘Wnt pathway’ — a process that is required to control stem cells in
many organs such as the brain, hair follicles and blood vessels.
However, lizards have a unique pattern of tissue growth that is
distributed throughout the tail.

“Regeneration is not an instant process,” said Elizabeth Hutchins,
a graduate student in ASU’s molecular and cellular biology program
and co-author of the paper. “In fact, it takes lizards more than 60
days to regenerate a functional tail. Lizards form a complex
regenerating structure with cells growing into tissues at a number
of sites along the tail.”

IMAGE: This image shows the Arizona State University research
team: (L-R) Jeanne Wilson-Rawls, associate professor with ASU’s
School of Life Sciences, Elizabeth Hutchins, graduate student in
ASU’s molecular and cellular biology…

Click here for more information.

“We have identified one type of cell that is important for tissue
regeneration,” said Jeanne Wilson-Rawls, co-author and associate
professor with ASU’s School of Life Sciences. “Just like in mice
and humans, lizards have satellite cells that can grow and develop
into skeletal muscle and other tissues.”

“Using next-generation technologies to sequence all the genes
expressed during regeneration, we have unlocked the mystery of what
genes are needed to regrow the lizard tail,” said Kusumi. “By
following the genetic recipe for regeneration that is found in
lizards, and then harnessing those same genes in human cells, it
may be possible to regrow new cartilage, muscle or even spinal cord
in the future.”

The researchers hope their findings will help lead to discoveries
of new therapeutic approaches to spinal cord injuries, repairing
birth defects, and treating diseases such as arthritis.

###

The research team included Kusumi, Hutchins, Wilson-Rawls, Alan
Rawls, and Dale DeNardo from ASU School of Life Sciences, Rebecca
Fisher from ASU School of Life Sciences and the University of
Arizona College of Medicine Phoenix, Matthew Huentelman from the
Translational Genomic Research Institute, and Juli Wade from
Michigan State University. This research was funded by grants from
the National Institutes of Health and Arizona Biomedical Research
Commission.

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About Johnny Adams

My full-time commitment is to slow and ultimately reverse age related functional decline to increase healthy years of life. I’ve been active in this area since the 1970s, steadily building skills and accomplishments. I have a good basic understanding of the science of aging, and have many skills that complement those of scientists so they can focus on science to advance our shared mission. Broad experience Top skills: administration, management, information technology (data and programming), communications, writing, marketing, market research and analysis, public speaking, forging ethical win-win outcomes among stakeholders (i.e. high level "selling"). Knowledge in grant writing, fundraising, finance. Like most skilled professionals, I’m best described as a guy who defines an end point, then figures out how to get there. I enjoy the conception, design, execution and successful completion of a grand plan. Executive Director Gerontology Research Group (GRG). Manages Email discussion forum, web site, meetings and oversees supercentenarian (oldest humans, 110+ years) research. CEO / Executive Director Carl I. Bourhenne Medical Research Foundation (Aging Intervention Foundation), an IRS approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit. http://www.AgingIntervention.org Early contributor to Supercentenarian Research Foundation. Co-Founder Geroscience Healthspan Forum. Active contributor to numerous initiatives to increase healthy years of life. Co-authored book on conventional, practical methods available today to slow the processes of aging – nutrition, exercise, behavior modification and motivation, stress reduction, proper supplementation, damage caused by improper programs, risk reduction and others. Fundamental understanding of, and experience in the genomics of longevity (internship analyzing and curating longevity gene papers). Biological and technical includes information technology, software development and computer programming, bioinformatics and protein informatics, online education, training programs, regulatory, clinical trials software, medical devices (CAT scanners and related), hospital electrical equipment testing program. Interpersonal skills – good communication, honest, well liked, works well in teams or alone. Real world experience collaborating in interdisciplinary teams in fast paced organizations. Uses technology to advance our shared mission. Education: MBA 1985 University of Southern California -- Deans List, Albert Quon Community Service Award (for volunteering with the American Longevity Association and helping an elderly lady every other week), George S. May Scholarship, CA State Fellowship. BA psychology, psychobiology emphasis 1983 California State University Fullerton Physiological courses as well as core courses (developmental, abnormal etc). UCLA Psychobiology 1978, one brief but fast moving and fulfilling quarter. Main interest was the electrochemical basis of consciousness. Also seminars at the NeuroPsychiatric Institute. Other: Ongoing conferences, meetings and continuing education. Aging, computer software and information technology. Some molecular biology, biotech, bio and protein informatics, computer aided drug design, clinical medical devices, electronics, HIPAA, fundraising through the Assoc. of Fundraising Professionals. Previous careers include: Marketing Increasing skill set and successes in virtually all phases, with valuable experience in locating people and companies with the greatest need and interest in a product or service, and sitting across the table with decision makers and working out agreements favorable to all. Information Technology: Management, data analysis and programming in commercial and clinical trials systems, and bioinformatics and protein informatics. As IT Director at Newport Beach, CA based technology organization Success Family of Continuing Education Companies, provided online software solutions for insurance and financial professionals in small to Fortune 500 size companies. We were successful with lean team organization (the slower moving competition was unable to create similar software systems). Medical devices: At Omnimedical in Paramount CA developed and managed quality assurance dept. and training depts. for engineers, physicians and technicians. Designed hospital equipment testing program for hospital services division. In my early 20’s I was a musician, and studied psychology and music. Interned with the intention of becoming a music therapist. These experiences helped develop valuable skills used today to advance our shared mission of creating aging solutions.
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