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Retinoic acid coordinately proximalizes regenerate pattern and blastema differential affinity in axolotl limbs
K. Crawford, D.L. Stocum


An assay that detects position-related differences in affinity of axolotl regeneration blastema cells in vivo was used to test whether retinoic acid, which proximalizes regenerate pattern, simultaneously proximalizes blastema cell affinity. The assay involved autografting or homografting late bud forelimb blastomas derived from the wrist, elbow or midupper arm levels to the dorsal surface of the blastema-stump junction of an ipsilateral, medium-bud-stage hindlimb regenerating from the midthigh level. The grafted blastemas consistently displaced to their corresponding levels on the proximodistal axis of the host regenerate, indicating the existence of level-specific differences in blastema cell affinity. Retinoic acid proximalized the pattern of donor forelimb regenerates to the level of the girdle and abolished their displacement behaviour on untreated host hindlimbs. Conversely, untreated forelimb donor blastemas displaced distally to their corresponding levels on host ankle regenerates, that had been proximalized to the level of the girdle by retinoic acid. These results indicate that positional memory in regenerating limbs is directly related to blastema cell affinity, and that very similar or identical sets of level-specific affinity properties are shared by forelimb and hindlimb cells.