Transcriptional correlates of proximal-distal identify and regeneration timing in axolotl limbs

S. Randal Voss, David Murrugarra, Tyler B. Jensen, James R. Monaghan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-63
Number of pages11
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part - C: Toxicology and Pharmacology
StatePublished - Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Inc.


  • Axolotl
  • Limb regeneration
  • Positional memory
  • Transcription

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Toxicology
  • Cell Biology


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