Heber-Katz E, Leferovich JM, Bedelbaeva K, Gourevitch D
Spallanzani\'s mouse: a model of restoration and regeneration.
Current topics in microbiology and immunology
Vol 280, pp. 165-89
The ability to regenerate is thought to be a lost phenotype in mammals, though there are certainly sporadic examples of mammalian regeneration. Our laboratory has identified a strain of mouse, the MRL mouse, which has a unique capacity to heal complex tissue in an epimorphic fashion, i.e., to restore a damaged limb or organ to its normal structure and function. Initial studies using through-and-through ear punches showed rapid full closure of the ear holes with cartilage growth, new hair follicles, and normal tissue architecture reminiscent of regeneration seen in amphibians as opposed to the scarring usually seen in mammals. Since the ear hole closure phenotype is a quantitative trait, this has been used to show-through extensive breeding and backcrossing--that the trait is heritable. Such analysis reveals that there is a complex genetic basis for this trait with multiple loci. One of the major phenotypes of the MRL mouse is a potent remodeling response with the absence or a reduced level of scarring. MRL healing is associated with the upregulation of the metalloproteinases MMP-2 and MMP-9 and the downregulation of their inhibitors TIMP-2 and TIMP-3, both present in inflammatory cells such as neutrophils and macrophages. This model has more recently been extended to the heart. In this case, a cryoinjury to the right ventricle leads to near complete scarless healing in the MRL mouse whereas scarring is seen in the control mouse. In the MRL heart, bromodeoxyuridine uptake by cardiomyocytes filling the wound site can be seen 60 days after injury. This does not occur in the control mouse. Function in the MRL heart, as measured by echocardiography, returns to normal.
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