• Retinoic acid;
  • Acid phosphatase;
  • Pattern formation;
  • Amphibian;
  • Hynobius leechii;
  • Limb regeneration;
  • Positional value;
  • Dedifferentiation


In the regenerating limbs of Korean salamanders, Hynobius leechii, retinoic acid (RA) induces duplication of skeletal structures in the proximodistal (PD) axis and often in the transverse axes. In the present study, the stage-dependent effects of RA for the duplication of limb skeletal structures at two amputation levels, the distal stylopodium and the distal zeugopodium, were studied using larval limbs of Korean salamanders. The results showed that the mean level of proximalization (MLP) by RA treatment increased during the stages of dedifferentiation and early bud formation while the MLP declined thereafter in both amputation levels. The decline of the MLP at the later stages of regeneration was due to the high frequency of hypomorphic regeneration or blocked regeneration. When the effects of RA treatment at two amputation levels were compared, the overall trends were similar but the actual timing was delayed for 2–4 days in the proximal level of amputation. Furthermore, the peak level of proximalization was achieved earlier and the peak level remained longer in the distal stylopodial level of amputation compared to the distal zeugopodial level of amputation. Since the histological observations revealed that the dediferentiation period was also extended up to 2–4 days in the proximal level of amputation, the acid phosphatase activity during the course of regeneration was measured to look for a quantitative relationship between the enzyme activity and the states of dedifferentiation. The results show that the level and the duration of acid phosphatase activity in the upper arm regenerates are both higher and longer than those in the lower arm regenerates. Furthermore, RA treatment caused an increase in acid phosphatase activity. Thus our results suggest that the state of dedifferentiation might be closely linked to the extent of proximalization of regenerating limbs by RA treatment. © 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.