Lens regeneration in adult salamanders occurs at the pupillary margin of the mid-dorsal iris where pigmented epithelial cells (PEC) re-enter the cell cycle and transdifferentiate into lens. It is not understood how the injury caused by removal of the lens (lentectomy) in one location is linked to initiating the response in a different spatial location (dorsal iris) and to this particular sector. We propose that the blood provides a link between the localised coagulation and signal transduction pathways that lead to regeneration. A transmembrane protein (tissue factor) is expressed in a striking patch-like domain in the dorsal iris of the newt that localises coagulation specifically to this location, but is not expressed in the axolotl, a related species that does not show thrombin activation after lentectomy and cannot regenerate its lens. Our hypothesis is that tissue factor expression localises the initiation of regeneration through the activation of thrombin and the recruitment of blood cells, leading to local growth factor release. This is the first example of gene expression in a patch of cells that prefigures the location of a regenerative response, and links the immune system with the initiation of a regenerative program.
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