How lizards regenerate their tails: Researchers discover genetic ‘recipe’

Aug 22, 2014

By Science Daily

By understanding the secret of how lizards regenerate their tails, researchers may be able to develop ways to stimulate the regeneration of limbs in humans. Now, a team of researchers from Arizona State University is one step closer to solving that mystery. The scientists have discovered the genetic “recipe” for lizard tail regeneration, which may come down to using genetic ingredients in just the right mixture and amounts.

An interdisciplinary team of scientists used next-generation molecular and computer analysis tools to examine the genes turned on in tail regeneration. The team studied the regenerating tail of the green anole lizard (Anolis carolinensis), which when caught by a predator, can lose its tail and then grow it back.

The findings are published today in the journal PLOS ONE.

“Lizards basically share the same toolbox of genes as humans,” said lead author Kenro Kusumi, professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences and associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “Lizards are the most closely-related animals to humans that can regenerate entire appendages. We discovered that they turn on at least 326 genes in specific regions of the regenerating tail, including genes involved in embryonic development, response to hormonal signals and wound healing.”

8 comments on “How lizards regenerate their tails: Researchers discover genetic ‘recipe’

  • Magic man never could heal amputees but science may give it a shot!

    ( if this research comes to fruition watch as delusional-oids claim the credit for their favorite delusion—check the Ebola cure credit giving in secular stars below—friendly atheist, I believe )

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  • A couple of questions for those better educated than I in this.

    a) I know a salamander can grow back a leg also, do lizards only grow back tails or tails and legs?

    b) Anyone have any ideas ass to why the genes to not grow back limbs would have been selected against? My only guess at the moment would be that in a large organism it might require a lot of food, or that you might bleed to death over a certain size anyway. Ideas?

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  • The mass spreading of the disease was caused by a woman “healer” making people believe smoke and mirrors would take the demon s away. She died of the disease and when every one came to town honor her work at her funeral,it spread like a gas fueled fire. But the American doctor comes home,gets shot and is at home enjoying life. Of course the delusional will say it was the man in the sky that gave the scientist the knowledge to make the drug

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  • Reckless Monkey my guess is it was a two stage selection process. Lizards evolved to drop their tails as decoys, a successful mutation, followed by a further selection for those lizards who could grow them back. A tail is after all very useful, (for a lizard) and growing it back would improve the survival and breeding chances of a lizard who had lost one.

    Humans, however, have never developed the facility to drop limbs. Until quite recently, if we lost a limb it meant almost certain death – because the circumstances under which that would happen would be violent, either predation or conflict. So the opportunity never arose for humans to develop the “re-grow” attribute.

    That’s my stab at it anyway.

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  • As an amputee this is very interesting.

    It has far reaching implications on the regeneration of not just limbs but all worn out parts of the body.

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  • Thank you Ivan and Neodawinian for the replies,

    I’m currently browsing through the link. Ivan, am very interested in what point on evolution we lost this or if this was a unique feature of only some amphibians (do we share a common ancestor?). Interesting topic

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