Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Jeffrey L. Osborn


There are long-standing hypotheses that endogenous ion currents act to control cell dynamics in development, wound healing and regeneration. However, the mechanisms employed by cells to detect the electric field (EF) and translate it into a discernable message to drive specific cell behaviors, such as migration, proliferation and differentiation, are not well understood. A better understanding of how cells are able to sense EFs and react to them is vital to understanding physiological mechanisms are involved in regeneration. Ion channel signaling provides a reasonable suspect for mediating these effects based on their documented involvement in proliferation, migration and differentiation.

To investigate mechanisms underlying ionic regulation of critical cellular processes in non-excitable cells, a novel, in vivo assay was developed to screen multiple pharmacological inhibitors of ion channels during larval A. mexicanum tail regeneration. This assay was used to identify individual channels that were then targeted for further analysis regarding their involvement in the regenerative process. Chapter 2 presents data from a study that indicates that a wound-like response can be generated in an invertebrate model by application of exogenous, low-amplitude sine-wave electrical stimulation. This was characterized by recruitment of hemocytes at the stimulation site which was dependent on voltage-gated potassium channels. Chapter 3 presents data from a comprehensive and systematic screen of pharmacological compounds against larval salamander tail regeneration that indicates 8 specific target ion channels. This chapter also describes results indicating specific mechanisms by which these channels may be perturbing regeneration. Chapter 4 presents data that indicate that the Anoctamin 1 channel identified in the aforementioned screen is a regulator of cellular proliferation. This is shown to be accomplished via amplification of intracellular calcium surges and a subsequent increase in the activity of the p44/42 MAPK signaling cascade.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)