Zebrafish faithfully regenerate their caudal fin after amputation. During this process, both differentiated cells and resident progenitors migrate to the wound site and undergo lineage-restricted, programmed cellular state transitions to populate the new regenerate. Until now, systematic characterizations of cells comprising the new regenerate and molecular definitions of their state transitions have been lacking. We hereby characterize the dynamics of gene regulatory programs during fin regeneration by creating single-cell transcriptome maps of both preinjury and regenerating fin tissues at 1/2/4 days post-amputation. We consistently identified epithelial, mesenchymal, and hematopoietic populations across all stages. We found common and cell type-specific cell cycle programs associated with proliferation. In addition to defining the processes of epithelial replenishment and mesenchymal differentiation, we also identified molecular signatures that could better distinguish epithelial and mesenchymal subpopulations in fish. The insights for natural cell state transitions during regeneration point to new directions for studying this regeneration model.
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