Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Salamander Stockings?

3D microscopy technique for studying production of new molecules in regenerating axolotl limbs

24 December 2020

Salamander Stockings?

You can tell Christmas is around the corner when scientists produce pictures like these. But, while the images look like festive stockings, they're in fact the regenerating limb buds of axolotl, a type of salamander. They're also only about 2 mm in length, so they wouldn’t hold very many presents. The photos were taken using a sophisticated imaging technique called light sheet fluorescence microscopy, which provides high-resolution visualisation of molecules in 3D-preserved tissues. Here, the researchers have captured newly forming proteins (red, top pair), replicating DNA (green, left pair), transcribing RNA (green, right pair), and a type of protein modification (red, bottom pair). Salamanders are one of the few species of vertebrate that can regenerate body parts. And, while studies like these are unlikely to lead to medical efforts to regrow human limbs, they may inform strategies to improve wound healing in patients.

Written by Ruth Williams

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