Researchers discover secrets behind liver regrowth and regenerative medicine

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Researchers at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) have discovered a code that establishes the genome of the liver to account for the remarkable ability of this organ to regenerate. This finding offers a new insight into how specific genes that promote regeneration can be activated when part of the liver is removed. These findings have the potential to inform about the development of a new form of regenerative medicine that could help non-regenerative organs grow in mice and humans.

While other animals can regenerate most organs, humans, mice, and other mammals can only regenerate the liver in response to an injury or when a piece is removed. NYUAD researchers hypothesized that the this unit in the liver would be controlled by a specific code that allows them to be activated in response to an injury or resection. They are found in the epigenome, which are DNA modifications that alter gene expression, rather than changing them. to himself.

Using a mouse liver model, the NYUAD team of researchers, led by biology professor Kirsten Sadler Edepli, identified the elements of the present in resting liver cells — cells that do not currently reproduce but have the ability to proliferate under the right conditions — that are activated regenerate. Genes involved in liver cell proliferation are silenced in non-regenerating livers, but the surprising finding was that they reside in parts of the genome where most genes are active. The researchers found that these pro-regenerative genes were labeled with a specific modification: H3K27me3. During regeneration, H3K27me3 is depleted of these genes, allowing their dynamic expression and boosting proliferation.

In the paper “Chromatin states modeled by an epigenetic code confer a regenerative potential to the mouse liver” published in the journal Communications on Nature, Sadler, and his team’s lead research scientist, Chi Zhang, present the discovery that the mouse liver contains elements of the epigenetic code that enable it to activate pro-regenerative genes when signaled. Epigenetic patterns are a well-established mechanism that coordinates gene expression. However, the way in which epigenetic patterns contribute previously the liver or how they affect liver regeneration was unknown. His research discovered six different chromatin states in the mouse liver corresponding to specific epigenetic markers, providing the first chromatin map of this important organ and demonstrating that the elements of this map are essential for liver regeneration. This finding provides a mechanism that keeps liver cells in a “ready-set-go” state, in preparation for signal regeneration.

“The secret of regeneration is locked into a code of the liver epigenome. We are now studying the ‘writers’ of the epigenetic code — the enzymes that create the epigenetic markers — to see how this epigenetic code responds to aging, as the ability of the liver is to regenerate the declines of older animals, including humans, ”Sadler said. “The continued study of the remarkable ability of the liver to regenerate provides a promise for the development of regenerative medicine; perhaps we can even try to write the code that allows regeneration in young people. to larger animal cells, or even to modify this code in other organs that do not regenerate and that currently can only be replaced by complex high-risk transplants. ”


Researchers discover the secrets of liver regeneration


More information:
Chi Zhang et al, chromatin states modeled by an epigenetic code confer a regenerative potential to the mouse liver, Communications on Nature (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-021-24466-1

Citation: Researchers Unlock Secrets Behind Liver Regeneration and Regenerative Medicine (2021, July 6) Retrieved July 7, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-07-secrets-liver-regrowth-regenerative -medicine.html

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