SEP 28, 2017 06:00 AM PDT

The axolotl salamander as a model for nerve-dependent regeneration

Presented At Cell Biology 2017
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  • Post Doc: Biologist, Northeastern University
      Johanna is a postdoctoral researcher working in the labs of Dr. James Monaghan and Dr. Sandra Shefelbine at Northeastern University. Her doctoral work, conducted under the guidance of Dr. Monaghan, focused on the regenerative abilities of the Mexican axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum), an aquatic salamander capable of fully regenerating amputated limbs. Her research has elucidated some of the molecular mechanisms of this regenerative process, particularly with regard to the relationship between peripheral nerves and cell proliferation. Her postdoctoral work has expanded her interests from cell biology to bioengineering, and she is currently exploring the regulation of skeletal morphology during limb regeneration.


    The Mexican axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) is an aquatic salamander that possesses some of the most astonishing regenerative abilities found in nature.  Able to fully regenerate amputated limbs, the axolotl may hold the key to unlocking similar abilities in others animals.  Salamander limb regeneration has been a source of scientific study and fascination for centuries, but only recently have the cellular and molecular mechanisms behind this process begun to come to light.  Our lab focuses on elucidating the molecular relationship between peripheral nerves, which are essential for regeneration, and the proliferative regenerating limb.  Nerve dependent wound healing and regeneration have been observed across a vast array of animals, and we have found that a certain nerve-derived protein, Neuregulin-1, is essential to this process in axololts and is capable of rescuing limb regeneration even in the absence of nerves.  The goal of this talk is thus to introduce the axolotl as a model for the study of cell and regenerative biology while providing an overview of our recent findings on the molecular basis of nerve dependent tissue growth.

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