Salamander limb regeneration is dependent upon tissue interactions that are local to the amputation site. Communication among limb epidermis, peripheral nerves, and mesenchyme coordinate cell migration, cell proliferation, and tissue patterning to generate a blastema, which will form missing limb structures. An outstanding question is how cross-talk between these tissues gives rise to the regeneration blastema. To identify genes associated with epidermis-nerve-mesenchymal interactions during limb regeneration, we examined histological and transcriptional changes during the first week following injury in the wound epidermis and subjacent cells between three injury types; 1) a flank wound on the side of the animal that will not regenerate a limb, 2) a denervated limb that will not regenerate a limb, and 3) an innervated limb that will regenerate a limb. Early, histological and transcriptional changes were similar between the injury types, presumably because a common wound-healing program is employed across anatomical locations. However, some transcripts were enriched in limbs compared to the flank and are associated with vertebrate limb development. Many of these genes were activated before blastema outgrowth and expressed in specific tissue types including the epidermis, peripheral nerve, and mesenchyme. We also identified a relatively small group of transcripts that were more highly expressed in innervated limbs versus denervated limbs. These transcripts encode for proteins involved in myelination of peripheral nerves, epidermal cell function, and proliferation of mesenchymal cells. Overall, our study identifies limb-specific and nerve-dependent genes that are upstream of regenerative growth, and thus promising candidates for the regulation of blastema formation.

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Published in Biology Open, v. 1, no. 10, p. 937-948.

© 2012. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike License.

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