Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract The mechanism of antero-posterior specification of limb skeletal pattern is still controversial. If, as proposed by the ZPA model, a diffusible morphogen does exist, its route of passage across the limb field has not been resolved. To investigate the contribution of the apical ectodermal ridge (AER) to the control of anteroposterior pattern formation, we examined the consequences of small wounds made to the AER. The wound response was investigated by means of resin histology and scanning electron microscopy; subsequent limb development and cartilage pattern were examined in wholemount preparations. Although regrowth of the bilaminate dorsal and ventral ectoderm over the wound occurred within 15 h, the more highly differentiated pseudostratified columnar epithelium of the AER did not reform, and there was subsequent retardation of limb outgrowth at the wound site. At 10–11 days of development, the appearance of the limbs allowed them to be placed into one of three categories; presence of supernumerary elements, accentuation of an inter-digital cleft, or normal. The first of these categories included limbs in which digit 3 had bifurcated such that the sum of the parts of the resultant digital skeleton was greater than that which forms in a normal limb. Since in all of the experimental limbs all skeletal elements were present, we propose that continuity of the AER is not a pre-requisite for anteroposterior skeletal pattern formation in the chick wing.
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