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Stability of positional identity of axolotl blastema cells in vitro


Previous grafting experiments have demonstrated that cells from non-contiguous positions within developing and regenerating limbs differ in a property referred to as positional identity. The goal of this study was to determine how long the positional identity of axolotl limb blastema cells is stable during culture in vitro. We have developed an assay for posterior positional properties such that blastema cells can be cultured and then grafted into anterior positions in host blastemas, to determine if they can stimulate supernumerary digit formation. We report that posterior blastema cells are able to maintain their positional identities for at least a week in culture. In addition, we observed that blastema cells are able to rapidly degrade collagenous substrates in vitro, a property that apparently distinguishes them from limb cells of other vertebrates. These results provide information regarding the time boundaries within which the positional properties of blastema cells can be studied and manipulated in vitro.

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