Background: Lizards are evolutionarily the most closely related vertebrates to humans that can lose and regrow an entire appendage. Regeneration in lizards involves differential expression of hundreds of genes that regulate wound healing, musculoskeletal development, hormonal response, and embryonic morphogenesis. While microRNAs are able to regulate large groups of genes, their role in lizard regeneration has not been investigated.
Results: MicroRNA sequencing of green anole lizard (Anolis carolinensis) regenerating tail and associated tissues revealed 350 putative novel and 196 known microRNA precursors. Eleven microRNAs were differentially expressed between the regenerating tail tip and base during maximum outgrowth (25 days post autotomy), including miR-133a, miR-133b, and miR-206, which have been reported to regulate regeneration and stem cell proliferation in other model systems. Three putative novel differentially expressed microRNAs were identified in the regenerating tail tip.
Conclusions: Differentially expressed microRNAs were identified in the regenerating lizard tail, including known regulators of stem cell proliferation. The identification of 3 putative novel microRNAs suggests that regulatory networks, either conserved in vertebrates and previously uncharacterized or specific to lizards, are involved in regeneration. These findings suggest that differential regulation of microRNAs may play a role in coordinating the timing and expression of hundreds of genes involved in regeneration.
Keywords: Brain; Gene expression; Lizard; Muscle; Regeneration; Reptile; Tail; Transcriptome; microRNA.