“Fizzy-related” gene regulates organ repair after injury

Most of us take for granted that our bodies and organs have the ability to heal after an injury, but rarely stop to ponder how. We know that the healing process occurs by filling the space created by the injury. This can happen in one of two ways: by making cells bigger (a process called hypertrophy) or by dividing cells to make new ones.  For over a hundred years, scientists have sought to understand why some organs undergo hypertrophy, and if that process has any advantages over cell division.

In a new study published in the journal eLife, Duke researcher Donald Fox, Ph.D., and his team identified a gene, known as “Fizzy related,” that regulates hypertrophy in fruitfly cells after organ injury. They found that in injuries requiring many cell divisions or many rounds of hypertrophy to heal, cell divisions led to organ distortion and loss of permeability, whereas hypertrophy had no substantial effect on the repaired organ.

Intestinal cells in fruitfly larva showing repair after injury. Magenta = intestinal cells, green – cell nuclei. Image courtesy Erez Cohen, Duke graduate student and the paper’s primary author.

These findings may benefit researchers interested in therapeutic organ regeneration, because the results identify a molecular target that could potentially be used to alter an organ’s repair capacity. They also highlight a potential protective effect of hypertrophy in injured tissues. Hypertrophy has been observed in humans, following injury to the liver, heart, or kidney. While often viewed as mal-adaptive and non-regenerative, this study’s results suggest that there may be a protective effect to hypertrophic tissue repair.

Read more about this paper and its implications in the Duke Medical School Blog.

Paper Citation: Cohen E, Allen SR, Sawyer JK, and Fox DT. Fizzy-related dictates a cell cycle switch during organ repair and tissue growth responses in the Drosophila hindgut, eLife 2018;7:e38327 doi: 10.7554/eLife.38327

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