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Species of the Week
Xenopus laevis | African Clawed Frog

Amphibian News Archive
Amphibians are unique among tetrapods in their ability to regenerate their appendages, like arms or tails, when removed. The particular mechanisms underlying appendage regeneration, however, are poorly known. A recent study (Aztekin et al 2019) combined tail amputation experiments in tadpoles of the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) with single-cell RNA sequencing, allowing researchers to study how different genes work in individual cells of various cell types during tail regeneration. This study discovered a previously unknown cell type named the regeneration-organizing cell (ROC). Removing ROCs from severed tails demonstrated that ROCs are necessary for tadpoles to regrow their tails. Transplanting these cells to other areas of the embryo demonstrated these cells are sufficient to grow tail-like structures elsewhere in tadpoles. ROCs are normally found in the epidermis and migrate to the wound site after tadpole tails are amputated, secreting similar regenerative compounds that are produced when salamanders regrow limbs. The discovery of a new cell type that enables amphibian larvae to regrow appendages has exciting implications for tissue and organ transplant procedures and is an important reminder that we have much yet to learn about the amazing biology of amphibians.

Current number of amphibian species: 8,032 (Jun 18, 2019) Newly added species