Researchers have identified how a key molecular pathway in salamanders is different than in mammals, possibly revealing the amphibians’ secret for regrowing their body parts. The findings tell us more about the mechanisms behind regeneration, and maybe one day they could be useful for regenerating human cells.
Salamanders are the only adult vertebrates who can regenerate full limbs. In fact, they’re able to regenerate an impressive repertoire of complex structures, including parts of their hearts, eyes, spinal cord, and tails, according to Max Yun from University College London. Regeneration depends on the ability of various adult cell types to undergo natural reprogramming. That means muscle cells, for example, must lose their muscle identity to help give rise to new cells that’ll form the replacement structure.
Yun and colleagues decided to focus on extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activation in cells derived from the red-spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens, pictured). ERK is a pathway for proteins to communicate a signal from the surface of a cell to the nucleus where the genetic material can be found.
They found that the ERK pathway must be constantly active for salamander cells to be reprogrammed. This sustained activation allows muscle cells to re-enter certain parts of the cell cycle.
In contrast, the mammalian equivalent of the ERK pathway is not fully active in mouse cells. The scientists only observed transient ERK activation — which explains why we and other mammals can’t regrow our entire limbs (although maybe a fingertip or a portion of the liver). The team then added a piece DNA that allows mammalian cells to produce a protein that activates the pathway. Forcing the pathway to be constantly active gives mammalian cells more potential for reprogramming and regeneration.
“We’re thrilled to have found a critical molecular pathway, the ERK pathway, that determines whether an adult cell is able to be reprogrammed and help the regeneration processes,” Yun says in a news release. “Manipulating this mechanism could contribute to therapies directed at enhancing regenerative potential of human cells.”
Next, the researchers are trying to understand how the ERK pathway is regulated and what other molecules are involved in the process.
The work was published in Stem Cell Reports this week.
These students thought they would order a Domino’s and then prank the delivery man when he delivered their food.
YouTuber Hevesh5 is famous as one of the most popular domino artists on the Internet. He just recently acquired 200,000 dedicated subscribers on his channel. In that honor he created one of his most epic domino sets yet using 22,000 pieces. It takes two and a half minutes for the entire set to complete.
If Danny MacAskill wasn’t wearing a helmet, I’d think he was completely out of his mind, aside from being extremely brave.
The professional cyclist of Scottish descent took part in a thrill seeking adventure along the Cuillin Ridge on the Isle of Skye with nothing but a helmet, a bike and his vast skill set of cycling stunts.
MacAskill used the 7.5 mile trail to fill up seven minutes worth of action-packed footage in the video produced by Cut Media.
If you thought bike riding without a helmet was ballsy, you were wrong. MacAskill reinvented the game with this bike stunt video while accompanied by the breathtaking views around him.
Check out the video above for a closer look!
Colorado natives Barbi and Dan have what they refer to as a “dog problem.” The problem? They really, really love dogs.
There’s no better example of their compassion for canines than this amazing wheelchair they created for one of their dogs, a corgi named Bentley. He was recently diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy (or DM for short).
The disease includes symptoms similar to Multiple Sclerosis in humans and Bentley’s adorable little legs had lost a lot of strength. He couldn’t even stand on his own, so Barbi and her family set out to help him get back to getting around — in style.
While Barbi and Dan went to lunch, her dad couldn’t help himself from getting started on the project.
“We started big and worked our way back.”
They of course gave it a snazzy paint job. Dogs must travel in style, always.
The RuffWear harness Bentley wears on a regular basis helped with designing his new set of wheels.
Before the project, this was all the poor guy had the strength to do. He couldn’t even sit, which was really depressing him.
Comfy, fluffy fabric is used for the side touching Bentley while an easier to clean ripstop fabric is used for the underside.
Barbi explains the jouring strap as something she “mostly made up” based on sled dogs. It helps Bentley to pull from the back of the cart instead of having all the drag come from the sling.
The bottom bar is mostly structural at the moment, but when he eventually loses all use of his hind legs it will be able to function as a nice foot rest.
The middle bar acts as a kickstand and keeps Bentley from rolling away when resting.
He was unsure about what the contraption was at first, but got into the swing of thing in no time.
That’s a happy pup! Barbi reports that he is now more confident to use the strength he has rather than giving up like he used to.
Here’s a video of Bentley taking his first steps with the wheelchair:
You can find out more about Bentley, his ongoing battle with DM and more over at Barbi’s blog, Anything For a Cookie.
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