University of Leicester
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Comparative Transcriptomics of Rat and Axolotl After Spinal Cord Injury Dissects Differences and Similarities in Inflammatory and Matrix Remodeling Gene Expression Patterns

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-08-14, 16:01 authored by Jure Tica, Athanasios Didangelos
Following spinal cord injury in mammals, maladaptive inflammation, and matrix deposition drive tissue scarring and permanent loss of function. In contrast, axolotls regenerate their spinal cord after severe injury fully and without scarring. To explore previously unappreciated molecules and pathways that drive tissue responses after spinal cord injury, we performed a 4-way intersection of rat and axolotl transcriptomics datasets and isolated shared genes with similar or differential expression at days 1, 3, and 7 after spinal cord injury in both species. Systems-wide differences and similarities between the two species are described in detail using public-domain computational tools and key differentially regulated genes are highlighted. Amongst persistent differential expression in matching neuronal genes (upregulated in axolotls but downregulated in rats) and nucleic acid metabolism genes (downregulated in axolotls but upregulated in rats), we found multiple extracellular matrix genes that were upregulated in both species after spinal cord injury and all time-points (days 1, 3, and 7), indicating the importance of extracellular matrix remodeling in wound healing. Moreover, the archetypal transcription factor SP1, which was consistently upregulated in rats but was unchanged in axolotls, was predicted as a potential transcriptional regulator of classic inflammatory response genes in rats most of which were not regulated in regenerating axolotls. This analysis offers an extensive comparative platform between a non-regenerating mammal and a regenerating urodele after spinal cord injury. To better understand regeneration vs. scarring mechanisms it is important to understand consistent molecular differences as well as similarities after experimental spinal cord injury.


AD was funded by the Rosetrees Trust (M276 and A1384) and the London Law Trust and King's College London Fellowship. JT's doctoral work is funded by a Volkswagen Stiftung Award.



Frontiers in Neuroscience, 2018, 12:808

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF LIFE SCIENCES/School of Medicine/Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation


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