Ras-dva small GTPases lost during evolution of amniotes regulate regeneration in anamniotes.
In contrast to amniotes (reptiles, birds and mammals), anamniotes (fishes and amphibians) can effectively regenerate body appendages such as fins, limbs and tails. Why such a useful capability was progressively lost in amniotes remains unknown. As we have hypothesized recently, one of the reasons for this could be loss of some genes regulating the regeneration in evolution of amniotes. Here, we demonstrate the validity of this hypothesis by showing that genes of small GTPases Ras-dva1 and Ras-dva2, that had been lost in a stepwise manner during evolution of amniotes and disappeared completely in placental mammals, are important for regeneration in anamniotes. Both Ras-dva genes are quickly activated in regenerative wound epithelium and blastema forming in the amputated adult Danio rerio fins and Xenopus laevis tadpoles' tails and hindlimb buds. Down-regulation of any of two Ras-dva genes in fish and frog resulted in a retardation of regeneration accompanied by down-regulation of the regeneration marker genes. On the other hand, Ras-dva over-expression in tadpoles' tails restores regeneration capacity during the refractory period when regeneration is blocked due to natural reasons. Thus our data on Ras-dva genes, which were eliminated in amniotes but play role in anamniotes regeneration regulation, satisfy our hypothesis.