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Development. 1993 Sep;119(1):199-206.

FGF-4 maintains polarizing activity of posterior limb bud cells in vivo and in vitro.

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Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, University College and Middlesex School of Medicine, London, UK.


The polarizing region is a major signalling tissue involved in patterning the tissues of the vertebrate limb. The polarizing region is located at the posterior margin of the limb bud and can be recognized by its ability to induce additional digits when grafted to the anterior margin of a chick limb bud. The signal from the polarizing region operates at the tip of the bud in the progress zone, a zone of undifferentiated mesenchymal cells, maintained by interactions with the apical ectodermal ridge. A number of observations have pointed to a link between the apical ectodermal ridge and signalling by the polarizing region. To test this possibility, we removed the posterior apical ectodermal ridge of chick wing buds and assayed posterior mesenchyme for polarizing activity. When the apical ectodermal ridge is removed, there is a marked decrease in polarizing activity of posterior cells. The posterior apical ectodermal ridge is known to express FGF-4 and we show that the decrease in polarizing activity of posterior cells of wing buds that normally follows ridge removal can be prevented by implanting a FGF-4-soaked bead. Furthermore, we show that both ectoderm and FGF-4 maintain polarizing activity of limb bud cells in culture.

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