Proliferation and recapitulation of developmental patterning associated with regulative regeneration of the spinal cord neural tube

Gabor Halasi, Anne Mette Søviknes, Olafur Sigurjonsson, Joel C. Glover*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Developmental patterning during regulative regeneration of the chicken embryo spinal neural tube was characterized by assessing proliferation and the expression of transcription factors specific to neural progenitor and postmitotic neuron populations. One to several segments of the thoracolumbar neural tube were selectively excised unilaterally to initiate regeneration. The capacity for regeneration depended on the stage when ablation was performed and the extent of tissue removed. 20% of surviving embryos exhibited complete regulative regeneration, wherein the missing hemi-neural tube was reconstituted to normal size and morphology. Fate-mapping of proliferative adjacent tissue indicated contributions from the opposite side of the neural tube and potentially from the ipsilateral neural tube rostral and caudal to the lesion. Application of the thymidine analog EdU (5-ethynyl-2'-deoxyuridine) demonstrated a moderate increase in cell proliferation in lesioned relative to control embryos, and quantitative PCR demonstrated a parallel moderate increase in transcription of proliferation-related genes. Mathematical calculation showed that such modest increases are sufficient to account for the amount of regenerated tissue. Within the regenerated neural tube the expression pattern of progenitor-specific transcription factors was recapitulated in the separate advancing ventral and dorsal fronts of regeneration, with no evidence of abnormal mixing of progenitor subpopulations, indicating that graded patterning mechanisms do not require continuity of neural tube tissue along the dorsoventral axis and do not involve a sorting out of committed progenitors. Upon completion of the regeneration process, the pattern of neuron-specific transcription factor expression was essentially normal. Modest deficits in the numbers of transcription factor-defined neuron types were evident in the regenerated tissue, increasing particularly in dorsal neuron types with later lesions. These results confirm the regulative potential of the spinal neural tube and demonstrate a capacity for re-establishing appropriate cellular patterning despite a grossly abnormal morphogenetic situation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-132
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge the technical assistance of Melinda Lillesand, Åse-Marit Kristiansen and Kobra Sultani. This study is supported by the Norwegian Research Council Stem Cell Program , the Norwegian Center for Stem Cell Research , and postdoctoral fellowships to GH from the Norway-Hungary Cultural Exchange Program and AMS from the Norwegian Research Council . We thank James Briscoe for critically reviewing the manuscript.

Other keywords

  • Chicken embryo
  • Dorsoventral patterning
  • Transcription factor


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