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In mammalian hearts, cardiomyocytes retain a transient capacity to proliferate and regenerate following injury before birth, whereas they lose proliferative capacity immediately after birth. It has also been known that cardiac progenitor cells including islet1-positive cells do not contribute to the cardiac repair and regeneration in mammals. In contrast, hearts of zebrafish, amphibians and reptiles maintain a regenerative ability throughout life. Here, we analyzed proliferative capacity of cardiac cells during cardiac development and post-ventricular resection using Xenopus laevis, especially focusing on islet1. Immunohistochemical examination showed that islet1-positive cells were present in a wide range of the ventricle and maintained high dividing ability after metamorphosis. Interestingly, the islet1-positive cells were preserved even at 1 year after metamorphosis, some of which showed tropomyosin expression. To assess the possibility of islet1-positive cells as a cellular resource, islet1 response to cardiac resection was analyzed, using adult hearts of 3 months after metamorphosis. Transient gene activation of islet1 in apical region was detected within 1 day after amputation. Histological analyses revealed that islet1-positive cells appeared in the vicinity of resection plane at 1 day post-amputation (dpa) and increased at 3 dpa in both tropomyosin-positive and tropomyosin-negative regions. Vascular labeling analysis by biotinylated dextran amine (BDA) indicated that the islet1-positive cells in a tropomyosin-negative region were closely associated with cardiac vessels. Moreover, dividing ability at this time point was peaked. The resected region was healed with tropomyosin-positive cardiomyocytes until 3 months post-amputation. These results suggest a role of islet1-positive cells as a cellular resource for vascularization and cardiogenesis in Xenopus laevis.


Saki Umezawa, Miho Miyakawa, Takashi Yamaura, Hideo Kubo, Tsutomu Kinoshita. Derivation of proliferative islet1-positive cells during metamorphosis and wound response in Xenopus. Histochemistry and cell biology. 2021 Jan;155(1):133-143

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PMID: 33070205

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