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Dev Growth Differ. 2019 Apr;61(3):212-227. doi: 10.1111/dgd.12602. Epub 2019 Mar 28.

Recovery of the Xenopus laevis heart from ROS-induced stress utilizes conserved pathways of cardiac regeneration.

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Department of Biology, Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts.


Urodele amphibians and some fish are capable of regenerating up to a quarter of their heart tissue after cardiac injury. While many anuran amphibians like Xenopus laevis are not capable of such feats, they are able to repair lesser levels of cardiac damage, such as that caused by oxidative stress, to a far greater degree than mammals. Using an optogenetic stress induction model that utilizes the protein KillerRed, we have investigated the extent to which mechanisms of cardiac regeneration are conserved during the restoration of normal heart morphology post oxidative stress in X. laevis tadpoles. We focused particularly on the processes of cardiomyocyte proliferation and dedifferentiation, as well as the pathways that facilitate the regulation of these processes. The cardiac response to KillerRed-induced injury in X. laevis tadpole hearts consists of a phase dominated by indicators of cardiac stress, followed by a repair-like phase with characteristics similar to mechanisms of cardiac regeneration in urodeles and fish. In the latter phase, we found markers associated with partial dedifferentiation and cardiomyocyte proliferation in the injured tadpole heart, which, unlike in regenerating hearts, are not dependent on Notch or retinoic acid signaling. Ultimately, the X. laevis cardiac response to KillerRed-induced oxidative stress shares characteristics with both mammalian and urodele/fish repair mechanisms, but is nonetheless a unique form of recovery, occupying an intermediate place on the spectrum of cardiac regenerative ability. An understanding of how Xenopus repairs cardiac damage can help bridge the gap between mammals and urodeles and contribute to new methods of treating heart disease.


Xenopus laevis ; heart; hypertrophy; oxidative stress; regeneration


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