Cells within salamander limbs retain memories that inform the correct replacement of amputated tissues at different positions along the length of the arm, with proximal and distal amputations completing regeneration at similar times. We investigated the possibility that positional memory is associated with variation in transcript abundances along the proximal-distal limb axis. Transcripts were deeply sampled from Ambystoma mexicanum limbs at the time they were administered fore arm vs upper arm amputations, and at 19 post-amputation time points. After amputation and prior to regenerative outgrowth, genes typically expressed by differentiated muscle cells declined more rapidly in upper arms while cell cycle transcripts were expressed more highly. These and other expression patterns suggest upper arms undergo more robust tissue remodeling and cell proliferation responses after amputation, and thus provide an explanation for why the overall time to complete regeneration is similar for proximal and distal amputations. Additionally, we identified candidate positional memory genes that were expressed differently between fore and upper arms that encode a surprising number of epithelial proteins and a variety of cell surface, cell adhesion, and extracellular matrix molecules. Also, genes were discovered that exhibited different, bivariate patterns of gene expression between fore and upper arms, implicating dynamic transcriptional regulation for the first time in limb regeneration. Finally, 43 genes expressed differently between fore and upper arm samples showed similar transcriptional patterns during retinoic acid-induced reprogramming of fore arm blastema cells into upper arm cells. Our study provides new insights about the basis of positional information in regenerating axolotl limbs.

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Published in Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part C: Toxicology & Pharmacology, v. 208, p. 53-63.

© 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

This manuscript version is made available under the CC‐BY‐NC‐ND 4.0 license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.

The document available for download is the author's post-peer-review final draft of the article.

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This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and Army Research Office through their support of the Salamander Genome Project (R24OD010435; 56157-LS-MUR) and Ambystoma Genetic Stock Center (P40OD019794; W911NF1410165), and by the National Science Foundation (1558017, 1656429).

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