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J Dent Res. 2008 Sep;87(9):806-16.

Tail regeneration in Xenopus laevis as a model for understanding tissue repair.

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  • 1Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology, Forsyth Institute, and Developmental Biology Department, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, 140 The Fenway, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Augmentation of regenerative ability is a powerful strategy being pursued for the biomedical management of traumatic injury, cancer, and degeneration. While considerable attention has been focused on embryonic stem cells, it is clear that much remains to be learned about how somatic cells may be controlled in the adult organism. The tadpole of the frog Xenopus laevis is a powerful model system within which fundamental mechanisms of regeneration are being addressed. The tadpole tail contains spinal cord, muscle, vasculature, and other terminally differentiated cell types and can fully regenerate itself through tissue renewal--a process that is most relevant to mammalian healing. Recent insight into this process has uncovered fascinating molecular details of how a complex appendage senses injury and rapidly repairs the necessary morphology. Here, we review what is known about the chemical and bioelectric signals underlying this process and draw analogies to evolutionarily conserved pathways in other patterning systems. The understanding of this process is not only of fundamental interest for the evolutionary and cell biology of morphogenesis, but will also generate information that is crucial to the development of regenerative therapies for human tissues and organs.

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