Wednesday, 20 June 2018

How 'microbial axolotl' repairs itself

In a new study, researchers report new insights into the regenerative capabilities of Stentor, a single celled model organism for regeneration biology. The study used novel gene expression methods that allowed the researchers to identify over one thousand genes that are involved in the regeneration process of individual stentor cells.

Some animals, such as the axolotl salamander, can regrow new body parts in a process that involves the generation of new cells. The damaged cells will die off and the limb will regenerate through cell division, which creates new tissue. Single-celled organisms however cannot utilise this strategy, as they only comprise a single cell -- hence upon significant damage, they usually die. Yet, some single-celled organisms, such as the giant ciliate Stentor, have the rare ability to repair themselves when damaged, in a process referred to as 'self-repair' or 'self-regeneration'. Whereas the ability of Stentor to self-regenerate has been known for some time, detailed knowledge about which genes play a role in this process has thus far been lacking. Now, a research team from Uppsala University has identified over a thousand genes that are involved in rebuilding a fully-fledged Stentor cell after being cut into two halves.

The Uppsala research team focused their study on the Stentor polymorphus, a trumpet-shaped ciliate which they could isolate from a pond nearby the laboratory.


Henning Onsbring, Mahwash Jamy, Thijs J.G. Ettema. RNA Sequencing of Stentor Cell Fragments Reveals Transcriptional Changes during Cellular Regeneration. Current Biology, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.02.055

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle

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