Sequencing The Largest Genome To Date, And What This Means For Researching Tissue Regeneration.
The Mexican salamander axolotl has long been a favorite biological model for developmental, regeneration, and evolutionary studies. What, exactly, makes the axolotl so fascinating?
It can regenerate body parts.
If the salamander loses a limb, it can grow a perfect replacement within weeks. The regenerated limb is fully complete with all of the necessary bones, muscles, and nerves. Not only that, but the axolotl can even repair severe injuries - like a severed spinal cord - and retinal tissue.
Decoding and Sequencing the Genome
A team of researchers led by scientists in Vienna, Dresden, and Heidelberg has recently taken an important next step in studying the axolotl, as reported recently in ScienceDaily. They have decoded the entire genetic information of the axolotl, making this the largest genome ever sequenced, and providing scientists with a new way to study tissue and limb regeneration on a molecular basis.
Scientists have been looking for a way to fully understand regeneration (and why it is so limited in most species), but the axolotl genome has been difficult to completely assemble due to its massive size roughly 32 billion base pairs, more than 10x the size of the human genome.
An international team of researchers have now managed to sequence, assemble, annotate, and even analyze the complete axolotl genome with the help of technology like the PacBio-platform and specialty software systems.
Interpreting the data
Analyzing the assembled genome is already leading to discoveries that uncover the uniqueness of the axolotl several genes have been identified as existing only in axolotl and other amphibian species that are expressed in limb tissue regeneration, and an essential developmental gene (PAX3) is completely missing from the genome, with a different gene taking over those functions.
The gene sequence has been made publicly available, creating a powerful resource for researchers around the globe to make further discoveries about tissue- and limb-regeneration.
For more information, read the full article on ScienceDaily.