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Dev Biol. 2004 Jun 1;270(1):135-45.

A stepwise model system for limb regeneration.

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Department of Developmental and Cell Biology and the Developmental Biology Center, University of California-Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697, USA.


The amphibian limb is a model that has provided numerous insights into the principles and mechanisms of tissue and organ regeneration. While later stages of limb regeneration share mechanisms of growth control and patterning with limb development, the formation of a regeneration blastema is controlled by early events that are unique to regeneration. In this study, we present a stepwise experimental system based on induction of limb regeneration from skin wounds that will allow the identification and functional analysis of the molecules controlling this early, critical stage of regeneration. If a nerve is deviated to a skin wound on the side of a limb, an ectopic blastema is induced. If a piece of skin is grafted from the contralateral side of the limb to the wound site concomitantly with nerve deviation, the ectopic blastema continues to grow and forms an ectopic limb. Our analysis of dermal cell migration, contribution, and proliferation indicates that ectopic blastemas are equivalent to blastemas that form in response to limb amputation. Signals from nerves are required to induce formation of both ectopic and normal blastemas, and the diversity of positional information provided by blastema cells derived from opposite sides of the limb induces outgrowth and pattern formation. Hence, this novel and convenient stepwise model allows for the discovery of necessary and sufficient signals and conditions that control blastema formation, growth, and pattern formation during limb regeneration.

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