A model of transcriptional and morphological changes during thyroid hormone-induced metamorphosis of the axolotl

Robert B. Page, James R. Monaghan, John A. Walker, S. Randal Voss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Anuran (frog) metamorphosis has long-served as a model of how thyroid hormones regulate post-embryonic development in vertebrates. However, comparatively little is known about urodele (salamander) metamorphosis. We conducted a detailed time-course study of induced metamorphosis in the Mexican axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) that probed metamorphic changes in morphology and gene expression in the skin. Using morphometrics, quantitative PCR, histology, and in situ hybridization we demonstrate that the development of transcriptional markers is fundamental to the resolution of early metamorphic events in axolotls. We then use linear and piecewise linear models to identify a sequence of morphological and transcriptional changes that define larval to adult remodeling events throughout metamorphosis. In addition, we show that transcriptional biomarkers are expressed in specific larval and adult cell populations of the skin and that temporal changes in these biomarkers correlate with tissue remodeling. We compare our results with other studies of natural and induced metamorphosis in urodeles and highlight what appear to be conserved features between urodele and anuran metamorphosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-232
Number of pages14
JournalGeneral and Comparative Endocrinology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported by Grants R24-RR016344 and P20-RR016741 from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NCRR or NIH. This project was also supported by the National Science Foundation funded Ambystoma Genetic Stock Center (DBI-0443496). Phil Crowley provided helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. Arnold Stromberg provided statistical advice. The content of this manuscript was improved by comments from two anonymous reviewers.


  • Ambystoma
  • Amphibian
  • Linear regression
  • Metamorphosis
  • Mexican axolotl
  • Morphometrics
  • Piecewise regression
  • Thyroid hormone
  • Transcription

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology


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