Achieving tissue regeneration that emulates the natural embryonic development pattern using gene editing in geckos
Somewhere between axolotls able to regenerate their lost limbs, and humans who… can’t, lizards sit at an interesting place on the evolutionary tree. Like axolotls they can regenerate their tails – but not quite as completely. Now scientists use stem cells to give this regenerated gecko’s tail (pictured on the left) tissue ‘patterning’ matching its lost appendage. And key to achieving this is allowing the stem cells’ potential to thrive in the adult lizard. The team implant neural stem cells (NSCs) from an embryo into an adult’s tail stump, after editing genes to make the cells ignore pattern-blocking signals in the adult tissue. The gecko’s new tail grows from a ball-like blastema (right) with patterns of muscle (highlighted in white), cartilage (red) and dividing cells (green) around an unseen skeleton and nervous system. Researchers hope similar approaches may help human stem cells to treat hard-to-heal injuries, sharing lessons down the evolutionary tree.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.