Gremlin1 (. grem1) has been previously identified as being significantly up-regulated during regeneration of Xenopus laevis limbs. Grem1 is an antagonist of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) with a known role in limb development in amniotes. It forms part of a self-regulating feedback loop linking epithelial (FGF) and mesenchymal (shh) signalling centres, thereby controlling outgrowth, anterior posterior and proximal distal patterning. Spatiotemporal regulation of the same genes in developing and regenerating Xenopus limb buds supports conservation of this mechanism. Using a heat shock inducible grem1 (. G) transgene to created temperature regulated stable lines, we have shown that despite being upregulated in regeneration, grem1 overexpression does not enhance regeneration of tadpole hindlimbs. However, both the regenerating and contralateral, developing limb of G transgenics developed skeletal defects, suggesting that overexpressing grem1 negatively affects limb patterning. When grem1 expression was targeted earlier in limb bud development, we saw dramatic bifurcations of the limbs resulting in duplication of anterior posterior (AP) pattern, forming a phenotypic continuum ranging from duplications arising at the level of the femoral head to digit bifurcations, but never involving the pelvis. Intriguingly, the original limbs have AP pattern inversion due to de-restricted Shh signalling. We discuss a possible role for Grem1 regulation of limb BMPs in regulation of branching pattern in the limbs.
Wang, Y. H., Keenan, S. R., Lynn, J., McEwan, J. C., & Beck, C. W. (2015). Gremlin1 induces anterior-posterior limb bifurcations in developing Xenopus limbs but does not enhance limb regeneration. Mechanisms of Development, 138, 256–267. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mod.2015.10.003