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Dev Biol. 2006 Nov 1;299(1):257-71. Epub 2006 Jul 29.

Cellular electroporation induces dedifferentiation in intact newt limbs.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Cardiology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84132, USA.


Newts have the remarkable ability to regenerate lost appendages including their forelimbs, hindlimbs, and tails. Following amputation of an appendage, the wound is rapidly closed by the migration of epithelial cells from the proximal epidermis. Internal cells just proximal to the amputation plane begin to dedifferentiate to form a pool of proliferating progenitor cells known as the regeneration blastema. We show that dedifferentiation of internal appendage cells can be initiated in the absence of amputation by applying an electric field sufficient to induce cellular electroporation, but not necrosis or apoptosis. The time course for dedifferentiation following electroporation is similar to that observed following amputation with evidence of dedifferentiation beginning at about 5 days postelectroporation and continuing for 2 to 3 weeks. Microarray analyses, real-time RT-PCR, and in situ hybridization show that changes in early gene expression are similar following amputation or electroporation. We conclude that the application of an electric field sufficient to induce transient electroporation of cell membranes induces a dedifferentiation response that is virtually indistinguishable from the response that occurs following amputation of newt appendages. This discovery allows dedifferentiation to be studied in the absence of wound healing and may aid in identifying genes required for cellular plasticity.

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