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Spine in Time

Modelling reveals axolotl rapid regeneration after injury involves synchrony of cell division

22 July 2021

Spine in Time

Scientists often need to put themselves in the right place at the right time. The secret to how this axolotl’s spine (shown in cross section) regenerates may be hidden in the first few hours after injury. Scientists know that, days later, nearby neural stem cells (highlighted in red and green with blue nuclei) are dividing three times faster than normal – but how? Researchers used mathematical modelling of the cell cycle to make a prediction: while cells in healthy spines divide out of synch with each other, injury calls a portion of these cells to the same 'stage' of the cell cycle, synchronising division. Peeking at cells at different windows of time after amputation supports this theory. Such combinations of predictive modelling and reinforcing experiments allow researchers to piece together dramatic events that – at least for the moment – remain a little mysterious.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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