The molecular processes underlying regeneration remain largely unknown. Several potential factors have been elucidated by focusing on the regenerative function of genes originally identified in a developmental context. A complementary approach is to consider the roles of factors involved in wound healing. Here we focus on the Thrombospondins, a family of secreted extracellular matrix proteins that have been implicated in skin wound healing in mammals. We show that a subset of Thrombospondins are expressed at distinct times and in particular cell types during axolotl limb regeneration. Our studies have revealed the axolotl orthologs of thrombospondin-1 (tsp-1) and thrombospondin-4 (tsp-4) are highly upregulated during limb regeneration in patterns both distinct and similar to larval limb development. Our data suggest that thrombospondins may be key regulators of limb regeneration in axolotl, while their activation appears to be relegated solely to wound healing in vertebrates that have lost the ability to regenerate limbs.
Copyright © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.