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Keywords:

  • chick;
  • embryo;
  • joint;
  • limb;
  • spacing mechanisms

Abstract

Signalling interactions between the polarizing region, which produces SHH, and the apical ectodermal ridge, which produces FGFs, are essential for outgrowth and patterning of vertebrate limbs. However, mechanisms that mediate translation of early positional information of cells into anatomy remain largely unknown. In particular, the molecular and cellular basis of digit morphogenesis are not fully understood, either in terms of the formation of the different digits along the antero-posterior axis or in the way digits stop growing once pattern formation has been completed. Here we will review recent data about digit development. Manipulation of morphogenetic signals during digit formation, including application of SHH interdigitally, has shown that digit primordia possess a certain plasticity, and that digit anatomy becomes irreversibly fixed during morphogenesis. The process of generation of joints and thus segmentation and formation of digit tips is also discussed.