POST TIME: 1 December, 2019 02:28:23 PM
Taiwan scientists find approach to rewrite animals' regeneration memory
Independent Online/ Xinhua

Taiwan scientists find approach to rewrite animals' regeneration memory

A team of scientists from Taiwan have discovered an approach to manipulate zebrafish's regeneration of missing body parts such as tailfins, which may challenge the existing understanding of how animals "memorize" regeneration.

The research team, led by Dr. Chen-Hui Chen of the Institute of Cellular and Organismic Biology of the Academia Sinica in Taiwan, identified a novel zebrafish mutant and found the mutation can cause tailfins to regenerate with high variability in sizes and shapes, said a press release from the Academia Sinica earlier this week.

They determined DNA "polymerase alpha subunit 2" as the mutated gene and discovered that its activity has a direct impact on blastemal proliferation and size, the statement said.

Some vertebrates like salamanders and zebrafish are known for their remarkable capacity to regenerate complex tissues, such as limbs, tails, and tailfins, and they can regenerate the body part that is exactly the same as the missing one. It remained a mystery of how such positional information is "memorized" to instruct the growth of a perfect replacement.

Through manipulating the activity of this specific gene of zebrafish, Chen and his colleagues developed an approach to effectively rewrite the so-called "positional memory."

The new memory is able to direct the growth of tailfin and scales of zebrafish, even after repetitive injuries, the statement said.

"The importance of these findings is that they provide the first means to alter the fidelity of positional memory. Thus, classic regeneration models that assume the memory is unmalleable may need revisiting and refinement," the press release said.

This study entitled "Genetic reprogramming of positional memory in a regenerating appendage" was published in the international scientific journal "Current Biology" on Nov. 27.