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Biological Chemistry

Limb-Regenerating Protein is Revealed

November 5, 2007 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 85, ISSUE 45

Newts are well-known for regrowing lost limbs. A study by researchers in England now reveals the protein that makes this regeneration process possible (Science 2007, 318, 772). Molecular biologist Jeremy P. Brockes of University College London and colleagues identified newt anterior gradient (nAG) protein and showed that it is expressed both by the regenerating nerve within the remaining stump after limb loss and by skin near the wound. The researchers believe that nAG binding to the cell-surface protein Prod 1 promotes growth of cells in the stump. Biologist David L. Stocum, who studies regeneration at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, says the findings could "help guide the field of regenerative medicine." The results also could "help explain why mammals have limited regrowth abilities, because the nerve sheath may not produce nAG, or cells cannot respond to it because they lack Prod 1," he notes. "But it is more likely that many other factors are missing as well."

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