Electric currents in Xenopus tadpole tail regeneration

Dev Biol. 2009 Nov 1;335(1):198-207. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2009.08.028. Epub 2009 Sep 4.


Xenopus laevis tadpoles can regenerate tail, including spinal cord, after partial amputation, but lose this ability during a specific period around stage 45. They regain this ability after stage 45. What happens during this "refractory period" might hold the key to spinal cord regeneration. We hypothesize that electric currents at amputated stumps play significant roles in tail regeneration. We measured electric current at tail stumps following amputation at different developmental stages. Amputation induced large outward currents leaving the stump. In regenerating stumps of stage 40 tadpoles, a remarkable reversal of the current direction occurred around 12-24 h post-amputation, while non-regenerating stumps of stage 45 tadpole maintained outward currents. This reversal of electric current at tail stumps correlates with whether tails regenerate or not (regenerating stage 40-inward current; non-regenerating stage 45-outward current). Reduction of tail stump current using sodium-free solution decreased the rate of regeneration and percentage regeneration. Fin punch wounds healed normally at stages 45 and 48, and in sodium-free solution, suggesting that the absence of tail re-growth at stage 45 is regeneration-specific rather than a general inhibition of wound healing. These data suggest that electric signals might be one of the key players regulating regeneration.

MeSH terms

  • Amputation, Surgical
  • Animals
  • Barbiturates / metabolism
  • Electric Stimulation*
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism
  • Ions / metabolism
  • Isoxazoles / metabolism
  • Larva* / anatomy & histology
  • Larva* / growth & development
  • Larva* / physiology
  • Regeneration / physiology*
  • Spinal Cord / physiology
  • Tail / physiology*
  • Xenopus laevis* / anatomy & histology
  • Xenopus laevis* / growth & development
  • Xenopus laevis* / physiology


  • Barbiturates
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Ions
  • Isoxazoles
  • bis(1,3-dibutylbarbiturate)trimethine oxonol