Nature communications

The careg element reveals a common regulation of regeneration in the zebrafish myocardium and fin.

PMID 28466843


The existence of common mechanisms regulating organ regeneration is an intriguing concept. Here we report on a regulatory element that is transiently activated during heart and fin regeneration in zebrafish. This element contains a ctgfa upstream sequence, called careg, which is induced by TGFβ/Activin-β signalling in the peri-injury zone of the myocardium and the fin mesenchyme. In addition, this reporter demarcates a primordial cardiac layer and intraray osteoblasts. Using genetic fate mapping, we show the regenerative competence of careg-expressing cells. The analysis of the heart reveals that the primordial cardiac layer is incompletely restored after cryoinjury, whereas trabecular and cortical cardiomyocytes contribute to myocardial regrowth. In regenerating fins, the activated mesenchyme of the stump gives rise to the blastema. Our findings provide evidence of a common regenerative programme in cardiomyocytes and mesenchyme that opens the possibility to further explore conserved mechanisms of the cellular plasticity in diverse vertebrate organs.