A team of scientists has detected the regions of DNA responsible for controlling tissue regeneration, opening the door to a better understanding of the mechanisms behind regenerative capabilities.
Scientists from several American universities have embarked on a joint investigation to locate the DNA fragments responsible for activating genes that help some animals to regenerate limbs, fins, and other tissues.
The research results were recently published in the scientific journal Science.
Scientists studied the genetic material of the zebrafish (Danio rerio) and the African killifish (Nothobranchius furzeri). Both have the ability to regenerate their caudal fins and a variety of organs.
The team was able to identify the genes that were active in the regenerative tissue. Between the two species, there is little overlap of active genes.
Scientists also found that removing the enhancer (a type of non-coding DNA sequence), or replacing it with a human version, prevented the regeneration of fins and heart in the African killifish.
According to the team, changes in the sequences of these enhancers are responsible for the differences between animals in their ability to regenerate tissues.
Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, one of the study’s authors, said that the results of this study will allow scientists to “gain a much more precise understanding of the mechanisms underpinning animal regeneration.”