Clonal Analysis of the Zebrafish Fin Regeneration Blastema
Regeneration is a remarkable feat of developmental regrowth and patterning. The blastema is a mass of progenitor cells that enables complete regeneration of amputated salamander limbs or fish fins. Despite years of study, methodologies to identify and track blastemal cell progenies have been deficient, restricting our understanding of appendage regeneration at a cellular and molecular level. To bridge this knowledge gap, gene expression analysis, the generation of transgenic and mutant zebrafish, qualitative and quantitative analyses, morphological measurements, and chemical treatments were used to assess molecular and cellular processes involved in fin regeneration. Two main findings arose from these methods. The first provides evidence that connective tissue progenitors are rapidly organized into a scalable blueprint of lost structures, and that amputation stimulates resident cells to reset proximodistal positional information. The second identifies a fibroblast subpopulation near uninjured fin joints that contributes to the blastemal progenitor population. These findings reveal insights on cellular and molecular mechanisms of appendage regeneration and provide a basis for work exploring how cells in an adult vertebrate bone appendage coordinately rebuild a new structure.
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