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Abstract

Pieces of coverslip glass, polycarbonate filters, or coverslip plastic, coated with fibrinogen or type I collagen, were implanted under one edge of a fresh skin wound on adult newt hind limbs so that the implant served as wound bed for migrating epidermal cells as they attempted to form a wound epithelium. Migratory events were then analyzed by phase contrast and electron microscopy. Phase-contrast microscopy revealed two types of lamellipodia on leading edge cells: one which was attached broadly to the cell body and one attached by a long, thin stalk. Stalkless forms were by far the most common type and we believe they provide the motive force for cell movement. Stalked forms often moved at distinct angles to the direction of sheet movement, suggesting that they may be sensory appendages. Phase photographs of the leading edge of migrating sheet 4 hours and 8 hours after implantation showed that all cells that were on the leading edge at 4 hours continued to advance for the next 4 hours, demonstrating clearly that under these circumstances the distalmost cells do not become immobile upon contact with the substrate as others have suggested. TEM revealed that migrating sheets were modified monolayers and that regardless of proximodistal location in the sheet, and even in the intact skin adjoining a wound, each epidermal cell adjacent to the substrate puts forth a lamellipodium which underlaps the cell in front. This and the behavior of sheets as they were teased or pulled from the implant suggest strongly that all basal cells contribute to movement of the sheet by interacting with the substrate. Based on TEM, this interaction may be by either focal or close contacts.