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Development. 2007 Apr;134(7):1397-406. Epub 2007 Feb 28.

Specification of cell fate along the proximal-distal axis in the developing chick limb bud.

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Department of Developmental Biology and Neurosciences, Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University, Aobayama, Aoba-ku, Sendai 980-8578, Japan.


Pattern formation along the proximal-distal (PD) axis in the developing limb bud serves as a good model for learning how cell fate and regionalization of domains, which are essential processes in morphogenesis during development, are specified by positional information. In the present study, detailed fate maps for the limb bud of the chick embryo were constructed in order to gain insights into how cell fate for future structures along the PD axis is specified and subdivided. Our fate map revealed that there is a large overlap between the prospective autopod and zeugopod in the distal limb bud at an early stage (stage 19), whereas a limb bud at this stage has already regionalized the proximal compartments for the prospective stylopod and zeugopod. A clearer boundary of cell fate specifying the prospective autopod and zeugopod could be seen at stage 23, but cell mixing was still detectable inside the prospective autopod region at this stage. Detailed analysis of HOXA11 AND HOXA13 expression at single cell resolution suggested that the cell mixing is not due to separation of some different cell populations existing in a mosaic. Our findings suggest that a mixable unregionalized cell population is maintained in the distal area of the limb bud, while the proximal region starts to be regionalized at the early stage of limb development.

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