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Newts which regrow their hearts

demonstrate the existence of a protein called Phospho-H3. This protein is a marker for the G2 phase of the cell cycle and indicates that the newt heart regenerates without the involvement of stem cells. It also seems that the heart regeneration does not create typical wound healing tissue, called a blastema. Braun explains this finding: "The heart only has a relatively small number of different cell types. This could be a reason why the regeneration of heart tissue does not require a blastema." The researchers in Bad Nauheim found no indication that stem cells were involved in repairing newt hearts.

he process of regenerating lost extremities is different. Unlike in the process with the heart, newts develop a blastema in this case. Blastema cells have certain characteristics in common with stem cells, such as the development into different cell types. The cell biologists in Bad Nauheim injected isolated heart muscle cells into a newt’s leg that was regrowing after amputation. In this environment, the cells began to de-differentiate, as they did in the heart. However, this did not happen when they were injected into an undamaged extremity. Again, the researchers registered the very rapid loss of heart muscle-specific proteins.

"We suspect that the signal for the de-differentiation comes from the area where the wound is healing and the cells communicate with each other," explains Braun. These signals could be transmitted via certain enzymes, for example. An enzyme of this nature - focal adhesion kinase -, which plays a part in the transmission of signals in the cells, is phosphorylated in the transplanted cells and is thus active. The Max Planck researchers in Bad Nauheim hope that better understanding of the molecular issues involved in regeneration in the newt will open up new possibilities for the repairing human patients’ damaged hearts.
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Source:Max-Planck-Gesellschaft


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