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Development. 1989 Apr;105(4):813-20.

Isolation of potential vertebrate limb-identity genes.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114.


Forelimbs and hindlimbs of tetrapods have different morphological patterns. One plausible explanation for the difference is that the cells that give rise to the limbs differentially express genes which control their pattern of development. Amphibian limb regeneration is an excellent system to test this hypothesis, since the same ultimate morphology is attained in regeneration as through embryogenesis. Using a combination of homeobox probes and differential screening, I have isolated two newt genes which are differentially expressed in regenerating forelimbs and hindlimbs. One of these genes displays properties expected of a gene involved in controlling limb morphology, including expression in mesodermal tissue and constancy of expression upon transplantation. Based on sequence analysis, this gene appears to be homologous to a homeobox-containing gene previously isolated from frog and human libraries.

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