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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Morphogenetic potential of the chick leg interdigital mesoderm when diverted from the cell death program.

There is evidence that the interdigital mesoderm may be in an undifferentiated state. For example, under experimental manipulation in vivo it may be diverted from cell death to digit formation. In the present work we wanted to analyze the maximum morphogenetic potential of the interdigital cells. To do this we made recombinant limbs of three types, the first using dissociated-reaggregated leg interdigital mesoderm, the second using the same tissue but without dissociation and the third adding a piece of polarizing region to the dissociated interdigit. In all three the massive cell death of the interdigit failed to occur. The first type of recombinant formed a small nodule of cartilage while the other two formed a well-developed digit. Our data indicate that the maximum morphogenetic potential of the interdigital tissue appears constrained to form digits and that dissociation of the tissue decreased this ability; polarizing region restores the ability of dissociated cell recombinants to form a digit. We also analyzed in these recombinants the expression of a battery of genes implicated in interdigital cell death or in digital morphogenesis. The pattern of expression of each gene analyzed was identical in the three types of recombinant limbs. The expression of Msx1 and Msx2 genes was maintained under the ridge indicating a good interaction between the interdigital cells, both dissociated and undissociated, and the apical ridge. The expression of Hoxd-12, Hoxd-13 and Hoxa-13 genes was maintained in the recombinants, indicating that these cells carry information about their autopodial origin, and this correlates well with their distal restricted morphogenetic potential. Finally, the patterns of expression of the Bmp-2, Bmp-4 and Bmp-7 genes indicated that they are independently regulated in the recombinants and that Bmp-4 and Bmp-7 have wider expression domains than the areas of cell death that were only detected under the regressing apical ridge during day 3 of the experiment.[1]


  1. Morphogenetic potential of the chick leg interdigital mesoderm when diverted from the cell death program. Ros, M.A., Piedra, M.E., Fallon, J.F., Hurle, J.M. Dev. Dyn. (1997) [Pubmed]
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