Genetics

Amphibian gives us new limbs

The axolotl can restore its limbs thanks to its genes, which have now been mapped.

© Getty

The Mexican salamander axolotl has special properties. Biologically speaking, the animal remains in the larva stage throughout its life and therefore never grows up.

Moreover, it can have its limbs grow back if they are damaged. Tests have shown that it can even reshape brain tissue and other organs and receive transplantations from peers without problems.

Axolotl has one gene too little

Scientists have been trying for decades to figure out how the salamander does this. And now they have come a big step further.

© Giphy

A team of researchers from the Vienna Biocenter in Vienna has mapped the genetic material of the axolotl.

That was no easy job, because the genome of the salamander has no fewer than 32 billion base pairs - ten times as much as that of humans.

So far it has been found that the axolot1 has in part the same genes as other salamanders. Those genes are probably involved in the recovery of limbs.

Brain must repair itself

Furthermore, the animal lacks the PAX3 gene, which plays a role in the development of nerves and muscle tissue.

Another gene, PAX7, has taken over this function with the axolotl. If we find the exact mechanism behind the animal's characteristics, we may be able to simulate the process.

The hope is that, for example, humans can repair damaged brain tissue themselves and that transplants will be easier

Video: Salamander Limb Regeneration HHMI BioInteractive Video (April 2020).

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