May 18, 2024

The Fascinating Process of Jellyfish Regenerating Tentacles in Just a Matter of Days

Jellyfish are known for their incredible regenerative abilities, and researchers have finally uncovered the key to their fast and efficient tissue regeneration. A team of Japanese scientists has discovered that stem-like proliferative cells play a vital role in the formation of a blastema, the clump of undifferentiated cells responsible for repairing damage and growing new appendages.

In a study published in PLOS Biology, the researchers focused on the jellyfish species Cladonema, which can regenerate a severed tentacle in as little as two to three days. They found that stem-like proliferative cells, which are actively growing and dividing but have not yet developed into specific cell types, gather at the site of injury and contribute to the formation of the blastema.

Notably, these repair-specific proliferative cells are different from the resident stem cells that are normally found in the tentacles. According to Yuichiro Nakajima, the lead researcher from the University of Tokyo, the resident stem cells maintain and repair the necessary cells in the tentacles during regular tissue turnover and are responsible for generating various cellular lineages during regeneration. On the other hand, the repair-specific proliferative cells appear only when an injury occurs.

The combination of resident stem cells and repair-specific proliferative cells allows for the rapid regeneration of functional tentacles in jellyfish within a short period. This is crucial for the jellyfish, as they rely on their tentacles to hunt and feed.

The discovery also sheds light on the mechanism of blastema formation in different animal groups. Sosuke Fujita, a postdoctoral researcher working on the same project, explained that by studying the tentacles of Cladonema jellyfish, they aimed to understand how blastema formation differs in non-bilaterian animals, which do not undergo left-right embryonic development. The study suggests that the formation of repair-specific proliferative cells is a common feature independently acquired during animal evolution for the regeneration of complex organs and appendages.

Comparing the findings to the regenerative abilities of salamanders, which are bilaterian animals capable of regrowing limbs, the researchers speculate that the repair-specific proliferative cells in jellyfish are analogous to the restricted stem cells found in salamander limbs. This similarity suggests that blastema formation through repair-specific proliferative cells is a widely shared mechanism for complex regenerative processes in animals.

However, the researchers admit that the origins of the repair-specific proliferative cells in the blastema remain unclear. The current tools available for investigation are limited, making it challenging to trace the specific cell lineages and identify other stem-like cells involved in the process. Nakajima emphasized the need for introducing genetic tools that can track cell lineages and manipulate Cladonema jellyfish. This deeper understanding of blastema formation mechanisms in jellyfish and other regenerative animals may hold the key to identifying cellular and molecular components that can enhance human regenerative abilities.

The remarkable regenerative capabilities of jellyfish continue to inspire scientists and offer new insights into the potential for tissue and organ repair in various species. By unraveling the mechanisms behind their rapid tissue regeneration, researchers can pave the way for future advancements in the field of regenerative medicine.

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Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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