Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation





First Advisor

Dr. S. Randal Voss


Tgf-β, Wnt, and Fgf signaling pathways are required for many developmental processes. Here, I investigated the requirement of these signaling pathways during tail regeneration and limb development in the Mexican axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum).

Using small chemical inhibitors during tail regeneration, I found that the Tgf-β signaling pathway was required from 0-24 and 48-72 hours post tail amputation (hpa), the Wnt signaling pathway was required from 0-120 hpa, and the Fgf signaling pathway was required from 0-12hpa. Tgf-β1 was upregulated after amputation and thus may mediate Tgf-β signaling pathway during tail regeneration. Both Smad-mediated and non-Smad mediated Tgf-β signaling were activated as early as 1hpa. Smad-mediated Tgf-β signaling via activated pSmad2 and pSmad3, and via phosphorylated Erk and Akt. Two different Tgf-β signaling pathway inhibitors, SB505124 and Naringenin, differentially regulated pSmad2, pSmad3, p-Erk, and p-Akt, while SB505124 and Naringenin both inhibited tail regeneration; only SB505124 reduced cell proliferation. Wnt/β-Catenin signaling was increased and was enhanced by Wnt-C59. Disruption of the Wnt signaling pathway directly or indirectly activated Erk and Akt signaling. Disruption of the Fgf signaling pathway decreased p-Erk and increased p-Akt. All three signaling pathways affected cell proliferation and mitosis during tail regeneration.

The Wnt pathway inhibitor Wnt-C59 prevented forelimb bud outgrowth. The critical window for Wnt signaling regulating forelimb bud outgrowth was approximately developmental stage 40-42. Wnt signaling ligand Wnt3a and tight junction protein Zo-1 were expressed in the epidermis of the forelimb bud and both were down-regulated by Wnt-C59. Moreover, both Wnt and Fgf signaling pathways affected cell proliferation and mitosis of mesodermal cells during forelimb bud outgrowth.

Overall, my results show that Tgf-β, Wnt, and Fgf signaling pathways are required for axolotl tail regeneration. All three pathways affect Erk and Akt signaling and guide cell proliferation and mitosis. The Wnt signaling pathway is required for forelimb bud outgrowth, and it appears to regulate expression of Wnt3a and Zo1, and control cell proliferation and mitosis of mesodermal cells underlying the forelimb epidermis. These data enrich understanding of signaling network dynamics that underlie tissue regeneration and vertebrate limb development.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This research was funded by the National Institute of Health, Office of the Director (R24OD010435).