This application seeks support to continue operations of the Ambystoma Genetic Stock Center (AGSC) at the University of Kentucky (UK). The AGSC is the only federally funded resource center that distributes Mexican axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum), a salamander that provides living materials in support of biomedical research nationally and internationally. Most notably, axolotls are unique among vertebrates in being able to regenerate numerous tissues and body parts. These include the spinal cord, limbs, jaw, retina, brain, heart, and tail, all of which can be regenerated at any point during embryonic, larval, and adult life. Also, axolotls are used by researchers that work in additional areas, including neurobiology, ecotoxicology, development, physiology, cell biology, genetics, genomics, and evolution. This is an exciting time for the axolotl as it?s incredibly large genome (32 Gb) was recently sequenced and assembled. New and assessable resources are allowing cutting edge technologies like gene-editing and single cell RNA sequencing to be performed for the first time, approaches that are rapidly accelerating discoveries using axolotl models. In just the past 4 years, NIH support for axolotl research has tripled and there has been a significant increase in transgenic and knock- out lines in the community. PI?s in the salamander community recently came together to discuss future opportunities and challenges, and the enabling role the AGSC will play in moving community efforts forward. During the previous funding period, the AGSC moved internally from the College of Arts and Sciences to the College of Medicine (COM) at UK. This move has strengthened the AGSC in several significant ways that clearly demonstrate long term commitment by the host institution for this irreplaceable resource. Specifically, funding was made available to replace re-circulating systems and create a more user friendly website to facilitate axolotl stock purchasing and more efficiently disseminate information that is useful for working with axolotls. Additionally, COM-UK has extensive experience working with university core research centers and thus provides a more stable administrative environment to support AGSC business activities and to better ensure regulatory compliance and animal health and welfare. Over the next 5 years, the AGSC will build upon current momentum by maintaining and generating high quality, axolotl stocks that are needed by a growing number of NIH-funded investigators. Husbandry and management practices will be modified to increase availability of post-embryonic stocks that are seeing increasing demand by researchers. Also, transgenic and knock-out stocks will be prioritized for import into the AGSC and cryopreservation methods will be developed to preserve and more efficiently manage stocks. The AGSC will continue to serve as an informatics hub where investigators obtain information about the collection, technical procedures, potential collaborators, and research findings. Overall, the project will ensure distribution and long-term sustainability of axolotl resources to NIH-funded investigators. !
Living stock resources are needed for the Mexican axolotl so that investigators can develop research models and translate biological information that is relevant to human health and disease. The Mexican axolotl is a primary vertebrate model for organ regeneration, tissue repair, and post-embryonic development.
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