Bioinformatics Screening of Genes Specific for Well-Regenerating Vertebrates Reveals c-answer, a Regulator of Brain Development and Regeneration.
The molecular basis of higher regenerative capacity of cold-blooded animals comparing to warm-blooded ones is poorly understood. Although this difference in regenerative capacities is commonly thought to be a result of restructuring of the same regulatory gene network, we hypothesized that it may be due to loss of some genes essential for regeneration. We describe here a bioinformatic method that allowed us to identify such genes. For investigation in depth we selected one of them encoding transmembrane protein, named "c-Answer." Using the Xenopus laevis frog as a model cold-blooded animal, we established that c-Answer regulates regeneration of body appendages and telencephalic development through binding to fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGFRs) and P2ry1 receptors and promoting MAPK/ERK and purinergic signaling. This suggests that elimination of c-answer in warm-blooded animals could lead to decreased activity of at least two signaling pathways, which in turn might contribute to changes in mechanisms regulating regeneration and telencephalic development.