A spike, a resultant regenerate made after amputation of a Xenopus froglet limb, has no muscle tissue. This muscle-less phenotype was analyzed by molecular approaches, and the results of analysis revealed that the spike expresses no myosin heavy chain or Pax7, suggesting that neither mature muscle tissue nor satellite cells exist in the spike. The regenerating blastema in the froglet limb lacked some myogenesis-related marker genes, myoD and myf5, but allowed implanted muscle precursor cells to survive and differentiate into myofiber. Implantation of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) -releasing cell aggregates rescued this muscle-less phenotype and induced muscle regeneration in Xenopus froglet limb regenerates. These results suggest that failure of regeneration of muscle is due to a disturbance of the early steps of myogenesis under a molecular cascade mediated by HGF/c-met. Improvement of muscle regeneration in the Xenopus adult limb that we report here for the first time will give us important insights into epimorphic tissue regeneration in amphibians and other vertebrates.
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