TU Dresden


Animal Models of Regeneration - Elly Tanaka

Our group seeks to understand the cellular mechanisms underlying salamander limb and spinal cord regeneration as a model for how successful regeneration occurs in a vertebrate.   This model acts as a starting point to rigorously investigate how mammals such as mice have lost regeneration capabilities over evolution.  In addition, these studies act as a springboard to design novel strategies for regenerating or replacing mammalian tissues.  Toward that end we have engineered three dimensional spinal cord tissue from mouse embryonic stem cells and retinal pigment epithelia from human embryonic stem cells.

Previous and current research

Unraveling the molecular cell biology of limb and spinal cord regeneration
Salamanders have the remarkable capability to regenerate their limbs and spinal cords.  Our group has identified the stem cells responsible for this complex regeneration, and the injury-responsive signals that initiate their proliferation. We have also identified signals that guide the regeneration process to form a faithfully constructed organ with the right types of cells at the right time. more

Future projects and goals

  • Molecular basis of positional identity
  • Understanding scarring versus regeneration
  • Molecular basis of organoid self-organization
  • Molecular targets of blindness diseases based on cell biology of RPE

Group leader

Selected publications

Sugiura T, Wang H, Barsacchi R, Simon A, Tanaka EM (2016).  MARCKS-Like Protein is an initiating molecule in axolotl appendage regeneration, Nature, in press

Rodrigo Albors A, Tazaki A, Rost F, Nowoshilow S, Chara O, Tanaka EM (2015). Planar cell polarity-mediated induction of neural stem cell expansion during axolotl spinal cord regeneration. Elife 4

Meinhardt A, Eberle D, Akira Tazaki, Ranga A, Niesche M, Wilsch-Bräuninger M, Stec A, Schackert G, Lutolf M, Tanaka EM.  (2014) Three dimensional reconstitution of the patterned neural tube from embryonic stem cells.  Stem Cell Reports, 3: 987–999.

Carido, M., Zhu, Y., Postel, K., Benkner, B., Cimalla, P., Karl, M.O., Kurth, T., Paquet-Durand, F., Koch, E., Munch, T.A., Tanaka, E.M., and Ader, M. (2014). Characterization of a Mouse Model With Complete RPE Loss and Its Use for RPE Cell Transplantation. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science 55, 5431-5444
Fei JF, Schuez M, Tazaki A, Taniguchi Y, Roensch K, Tanaka EM.  (2014). CRISPR-mediated genomic deletion of Sox2 in the axolotl shows a requirement in spinal cord neural stem cell amplification during tail regeneration. Stem Cell Reports, 3:444-459.
Sandoval-Guzman, T., Wang, H., Khattak, S., Schuez, M., Roensch, K., Nacu, E., Tazaki, A., Joven, A., Tanaka, E.M., and Simon, A. (2014). Fundamental Differences in Dedifferentiation and Stem Cell Recruitment during Skeletal Muscle Regeneration in Two Salamander Species. Cell Stem Cell 14:174-187


Group Leader

Elly Tanaka, PhD (Senior Scientist)

Assistant to Group Leader

Franziska Kiel
Phone: +49 (0)351 458 82052