Submission Date

7-19-2019

Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access

Department

Biology

Faculty Mentor

Ellen Dawley

Student Contributor

Karen Herrera

Comments

Presented during the 21st Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 19, 2019 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

Regeneration in amphibians is a ubiquitous phenomenon, however, in mammals it is rare. Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) have the ability to regenerate limbs, tails, retinas, and jaws throughout their lives. This exotic amphibian species originates in the murky canals of Lake Xochimilco in Mexico. An essential part of axolotl spinal cord regeneration begins with various glial cell (non-neuronal cells of the central nervous system, CNS) activities. We analyzed radial glial cell morphology because these cells have the ability to potentially act as neural stem cells within the CNS in axolotls and other salamanders. We amputated the distal two centimeters of each tail, then waited for one to two weeks to amputate the regenerated tail portion. Both of these amputations underwent tissue processing, including immunohistochemistry to label glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). GFAP is a marker for radial glia in the ependymal layer of the spinal cord, allowing us to find and analyze these cells. We measured radial glial cell body size and process lengths in order to characterize radial glia morphology before and after the tail amputation. In studying stem cells within axolotls, we can elucidate the regeneration processes that remain active in amphibians and explore how applicable they can be to humans.

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