An international research consortium, which was led by Elly Tanaka (IMP Vienna, Austria) and Gene Myers (MPI for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, Germany) and which included the lab of Bianca Habermann (IBDM, Aix-Marseille University & CNRS) decoded the largest genome to date – and it is the one of the Mexican Axolotl.

The Habermann lab contributed majorly to this project by de novo assembling the so-called transcriptome, which holds the information for all proteins and RNAs – and which is essential for identifying the coding regions in the genome.

The Axolotl, which is also known as the Mexican salamander or Mexican walking fish, is an important model organism for regenerative medicine, as it is able to regrow entire body structures, such as its limbs or its tail. With 32 Gb (Giga-bases), its genome is ten times as big as the human genome, due to expanded non coding regions, which has made its sequencing very difficult.

The availability of the Axolotl genome is a big step forward in research on tissue regeneration. It enables scientists to search for regeneration-specific genes and makes the manipulation of the genome for medical research easier.

Figure

The Mexican Axolotl is able to regenerate entire body structures, such as the limbs or the tail. Its gigantic genome has now been decoded, opening new avenues for regenerativ medicine research. Image courtesy: IMP Vienna.

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