Genetic factors shaping salamander tails determine regeneration pace

July 03, 2013

Salamanders' capacity to regrow lost limbs may seem infinite when compared with that of humans, but even amongst salamanders, some species regenerate body parts very slowly, while others lose this capacity as they age. Now, researchers have found that salamanders' capacity to regrow a cut tail depends on several small regions of DNA in their genome that impact how wide the tail grows. The results are published July 3 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Randal Voss and colleagues from the University of Kentucky.

In the study, approximately 66-68% of the differences in regeneration among animals correlated with the width of their tails at the site of amputation. Molecular analysis revealed several genetic markers that had small, additive effects on the width of the tail, and thus contributed to the animals' regenerative capacity. Voss adds, "Our results show that regenerative outgrowth is regulated locally by factors at the site of injury. Although we do not know the nature of these local factors yet, our findings suggest they are distributed quantitatively along the length of the tail."
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Citation: Voss GJ, Kump DK, Walker JA, Voss SR (2013) Variation in Salamander Tail Regeneration Is Associated with Genetic Factors That Determine Tail Morphology. PLOS ONE 8(7): e67274. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067274

Financial Disclosure: This study was supported by grants R24-RR016344, R24-OD010435, and RC2-NS069480 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The project also used resources developed under Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative grant W911NF-09-1-0305 from the Army Research Office, and resources from the Ambystoma Genetic Stock Center, which is funded by grant DBI-0951484 from the National Science Foundation. The contents of this paper are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NCRR, NIH, ARO, or NSF. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interest Statement: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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