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Dev Biol. 2007 Dec 1;312(1):231-44. Epub 2007 Sep 25.

Nerve-induced ectopic limb blastemas in the Axolotl are equivalent to amputation-induced blastemas.

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Department of Developmental and Cell Biology, Natural Sciences II Division, 4114 Natural Sciences II, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697-2305, USA.


Adult urodeles (salamanders) are unique in their ability to regenerate complex organs perfectly. The recently developed Accessory Limb Model (ALM) in the axolotl provides an opportunity to identify and characterize the essential signaling events that control the early steps in limb regeneration. The ALM demonstrates that limb regeneration progresses in a stepwise fashion that is dependent on signals from the wound epidermis, nerves and dermal fibroblasts from opposite sides of the limb. When all the signals are present, a limb is formed de novo. The ALM thus provides an opportunity to identify and characterize the signaling pathways that control blastema morphogenesis and limb regeneration. Our previous study provided data on cell contribution, cell migration and nerve dependency indicating that an ectopic blastema is equivalent to an amputation-induced blastema. In the present study, we have determined that formation of both ectopic blastemas and amputation-induced blastemas is regulated by the same molecular mechanisms, and that both types of blastema cells exhibit the same functions in controlling growth and pattern formation. We have identified and validated five marker genes for the early stages of wound healing, dedifferentiation and blastema formation, and have discovered that the expression of each of these markers is the same for both ectopic and amputation-induced blastemas. In addition, ectopic blastema cells interact coordinately with amputation-induced blastema cells to form a regenerated limb. Therefore, the ALM is appropriate for identifying the signaling pathways regulating the early events of tetrapod limb regeneration.

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