Retinoic acid receptor regulation of epimorphic and homeostatic regeneration in the axolotl.
Limb development in salamanders differs from other tetrapods in that the first digits to form are the two most anterior (preaxial dominance). This has been proposed as a salamander novelty and its mechanistic basis is unknown. Salamanders are the only adult tetrapods able to regenerate the limb, and the contribution of preaxial dominance to limb regeneration is unclear. Here we show that during early outgrowth of the limb bud, a small cohort of cells express the orphan gene Prod1 together with Bmp2, a critical player in digit condensation in amniotes. Disruption of Prod1 with a gene-editing nuclease abrogates these cells, and blocks formation of the radius and ulna, and outgrowth of the anterior digits. Preaxial dominance is a notable feature of limb regeneration in the larval newt, but this changes abruptly after metamorphosis so that the formation of anterior and posterior digits occurs together within the autopodium resembling an amniote-like pattern.