Nerve independent limb induction in axolotls

Aki Makanae, Ayako Hirata, Yasuko Honjo, Kazumasa Mitogawa, Akira Satoh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Urodele amphibians can regenerate their limbs. During limb regeneration, dermal fibroblasts are transformed into undifferentiated cells called blastema cells. These dermis-blastema cells show multipotency. Such so-called endogenous reprogramming of cell differentiation is one of the main targets of amphibian limb regeneration studies. It is well recognized that nerve presence controls the initiation of limb regeneration. Accordingly, nerve factors have been sought in amphibian limb regeneration. To investigate it, a relatively new study system called the accessory limb model (ALM) was developed. Using ALM, two signaling cascades (Fgf and Gdf5 signaling) came under focus. In the present study, Growth and differentiation factor-5 (Gdf5) application to wounded skin initiated limb regeneration responses and resulted in induction of a blastema-like structure in the absence of a nerve. However, the Gdf5-induced structure showed defects as a regeneration blastema, such as absence of detectable Prrx1 expression by in situ hybridization. The defects could be remedied by additional Fibroblasts growth factor (Fgf) inputs. These two inputs (Gdf5 and Fgfs) were sufficient to substitute for the nerve functions in the induction of limb regeneration. Indeed, Fgf2, Fgf8, and Gdf5 applications with the contralateral skin graft resulted in limb formation without nerve supply. Furthermore, acquisition of cartilage differentiation potential of dermal fibroblasts was tested in an in vivo and in vitro combination assay. Dermal fibroblasts cultured with Gdf5 were difficult to participate in cartilage formation when the cultured cells were grafted into cartilage forming region. In contrast, dermal fibroblasts cultured with Fgf2 and Fgf8 became easier to participate into cartilage formation in the same procedure. These results contribute to our understanding of molecular mechanisms of the early phase of amphibian limb regeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-226
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2013


  • Axolotl
  • Blastema
  • Dedifferentiation
  • Gdf5
  • Limb regeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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