Expression of FGF2 in the limb blastema of two Salamandridae correlates with their regenerative capability

S. Giampaoli, S. Bucci, M. Ragghianti, G. Mancino, F. Zhang, P. Ferretti

Abstract

Limb regenerative potential in urodeles seems to vary among different species. We observed that Triturus vulgaris meridionalis regenerate their limbs significantly faster than T. carnifex, where a long gap between the time of amputation and blastema formation occurs, and tried to identify cellular and molecular events that may underlie these differences in regenerative capability. Whereas wound healing is comparable in the two species, formation of an apical epidermal cap (AEC), which is required for blastema outgrowth, is delayed for approximately three weeks in T. carnifex. Furthermore, fewer nerve fibres are present distally early after amputation, consistent with the late onset of blastemal cell proliferation observed in T. carnifex. We investigated whether different expression of putative blastema mitogens, such as FGF1 and FGF2, in these species may underlie differences in the progression of regeneration. We found that whereas FGF1 is detected in the epidermis throughout the regenerative process, FGF2 onset of expression in the wound epidermis of both species coincides with AEC formation and initiation of blastemal cell proliferation, which is delayed in T. carnifex, and declines thereafter. In vitro studies showed that FGF2 activates MCM3, a factor essential for DNA replication licensing activity, and can be produced by blastemal cells themselves, indicating an autocrine action. These results suggest that FGF2 plays a key role in the initiation of blastema growth.