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Zebra fish fins help Oregon researchers gain insight into bone regeneration
Date:1/30/2014

EUGENE, Ore. -- University of Oregon biologists say they have opened the window on the natural process of bone regeneration in zebra fish, and that the insights they gained could be used to advance therapies for bone fractures and disease.

In a paper placed online in advance of print in the Feb. 13 issue of the journal Cell Reports, the UO team shows that two molecular pathways work in concert to allow adult zebra fish to perfectly replace bones lost upon fin amputation.

One pathway resets existing bone cells to a developmental stem cell-like state and then supports their growth to replace lost cells. The second directs the newly formed cells to turn back into functional, organized bone. Using genetic, cellular and molecular approaches, the authors detailed how the opposing pathways cross-communicate to keep the regenerative process in balance.

Unlike humans, some vertebrates, including zebra fish, have amazing innate abilities to regenerate lost appendages and organs, said co-author Kryn Stankunas, a professor of biology and member of the UO Institute of Molecular Biology. According to the authors, a mysterious process triggers residual cells to revert to a less developed state upon tissue damage, a process known as dedifferentation. The process is unique to animals like zebra fish and could be the key to their ability to perfectly restore lost tissue. Understanding the mechanisms could support the design of regenerative therapies that direct human cells to behave similarly.

"We focused on the bones of the zebra fish tail fin," Stankunas said, "and asked how amputation induces mature bone-lining cells to go backwards in their developmental age to what's called a progenitor state."

The researchers found that cell-to-cell signaling mediated by the Wnt pathway helps existing mature bone cells become progenitor cells after fin amputation. This starts the bone regeneration process. Local Wnt production at the ti
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Contact: Jim Barlow
jebarlow@uoregon.edu
541-346-3481
University of Oregon
Source:Eurekalert

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