Complete compensation in skilled reaching success with associated impairments in limb synergies, after dorsal column lesion in the rat.
Each of the dorsal columns of the rat spinal cord conveys primary sensory information, by way of the medullary dorsal column nucleus, to the ventrobasal thalamus on the contralateral side; thus the dorsal columns are an important source of neural input to the sensorimotor cortex. Damage to the dorsal columns causes impairments in synergistic proximal or whole-body movements in cats and distal limb impairments in primates, particularly in multiarticulated finger movements and tactile foviation while handling objects, but the behavioral effects of afferent fiber lesions in the dorsal columns of rodents have not been described. Female Long-Evans rats were trained to reach with a forelimb for food pellets and subsequently received lesions of the dorsomedial spinal cord at the C2 level, ipsilateral to their preferred limb. Reaching success completely recovered within a few days of dorsal column lesion. Nevertheless, a detailed analysis of high-speed video recordings revealed that rotatory limb movements (aiming, pronation, supination, etc.) were irreversibly impaired. Compensation was achieved with whole-body and alternate limb movements. These results indicate the following: (1) in the absence of the dorsal columns, other sensorimotor pathways support endpoint success in reaching; (2) sensory input conveyed by the dorsal columns is important for both proximal and distal limb movements used for skilled reaching; and (3) detailed behavioral analyses in addition to endpoint measures are necessary to completely describe the effects of dorsal column lesions. (+info
Source of inappropriate receptive fields in cortical somatotopic maps from rats that sustained neonatal forelimb removal.
Previously this laboratory demonstrated that forelimb removal at birth in rats results in the invasion of the cuneate nucleus by sciatic nerve axons and the development of cuneothalamic cells with receptive fields that include both the forelimb-stump and the hindlimb. However, unit-cluster recordings from primary somatosensory cortex (SI) of these animals revealed few sites in the forelimb-stump representation where responses to hindlimb stimulation also could be recorded. Recently we reported that hindlimb inputs to the SI forelimb-stump representation are suppressed functionally in neonatally amputated rats and that GABAergic inhibition is involved in this process. The present study was undertaken to assess the role that intracortical projections from the SI hindlimb representation may play in the functional reorganization of the SI forelimb-stump field in these animals. The SI forelimb-stump representation was mapped during gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-receptor blockade, both before and after electrolytic destruction of the SI hindlimb representation. Analysis of eight amputated rats showed that 75.8% of 264 stump recording sites possessed hindlimb receptive fields before destruction of the SI hindlimb. After the lesions, significantly fewer sites (13.2% of 197) were responsive to hindlimb stimulation (P < 0.0001). Electrolytic destruction of the SI lower-jaw representation in four additional control rats with neonatal forelimb amputation did not significantly reduce the percentage of hindlimb-responsive sites in the SI stump field during GABA-receptor blockade (P = 0.98). Similar results were obtained from three manipulated rats in which the SI hindlimb representation was silenced temporarily with a local cobalt chloride injection. Analysis of response latencies to sciatic nerve stimulation in the hindlimb and forelimb-stump representations suggested that the intracortical pathway(s) mediating the hindlimb responses in the forelimb-stump field may be polysynaptic. The mean latency to sciatic nerve stimulation at responsive sites in the GABA-receptor blocked SI stump representation of neonatally amputated rats was significantly longer than that for recording sites in the hindlimb representation [26.3 +/- 8.1 (SD) ms vs. 10.8 +/- 2.4 ms, respectively, P < 0.0001]. These results suggest that hindlimb input to the SI forelimb-stump representation detected in GABA-blocked cortices of neonatally forelimb amputated rats originates primarily from the SI hindlimb representation. (+info
Essential roles of retinoic acid signaling in interdigital apoptosis and control of BMP-7 expression in mouse autopods.
We previously reported that mice lacking the RARgamma gene and one or both alleles of the RARbeta gene (i.e., RARbeta+/-/RARgamma-/- and RARbeta-/-/RARgamma-/- mutants) display a severe and fully penetrant interdigital webbing (soft tissue syndactyly), caused by the persistence of the fetal interdigital mesenchyme (Ghyselinck et al., 1997, Int. J. Dev. Biol. 41, 425-447). In the present study, these compound mutants were used to investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in retinoic acid (RA)-dependent formation of the interdigital necrotic zones (INZs). The mutant INZs show a marked decrease in the number of apoptotic cells accompanied by an increase of cell proliferation. This marked decrease was not paralleled by a reduction of the number of macrophages, indicating that the chemotactic cues which normally attract these cells into the INZs were not affected. The expression of a number of genes known to be involved in the establishment of the INZs, the patterning of the autopod, and/or the initiation of apoptosis was also unaffected. These genes included BMP-2, BMP-4, Msx-1, Msx-2, 5' members of Hox complexes, Bcl2, Bax, and p53. In contrast, the mutant INZs displayed a specific, graded, down-regulation of tissue transglutaminase (tTG) promoter activity and of stromelysin-3 expression upon the removal of one or both alleles of the RARbeta gene from the RARgamma null genetic background. As retinoic acid response elements are present in the promoter regions of both tTG and stromelysin-3 genes, we propose that RA might increase the amount of cell death in the INZs through a direct modulation of tTG expression and that it also contributes to the process of tissue remodeling, which accompanies cell death, through an up-regulation of stromelysin-3 expression in the INZs. Approximately 10% of the RARbeta-/- /RARgamma-/- mutants displayed a supernumerary preaxial digit on hindfeet, which is also a feature of the BMP-7 null phenotype (Dudley et al., 1995, Genes Dev. 9, 2795-2807; Luo et al., 1995, Genes Dev. 9, 2808-2820). BMP-7 was globally down-regulated at an early stage in the autopods of these RAR double null mutants, prior to the appearance of the digital rays. Therefore, RA may exert some of its effects on anteroposterior autopod patterning through controlling BMP-7 expression. (+info
Targeted disruption of Smad3 reveals an essential role in transforming growth factor beta-mediated signal transduction.
The Smads are a family of nine related proteins which function as signaling intermediates for the transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) superfamily of ligands. To discern the in vivo functions of one of these Smads, Smad3, we generated mice harboring a targeted disruption of this gene. Smad3 null mice, although smaller than wild-type littermates, are viable, survive to adulthood, and exhibit an early phenotype of forelimb malformation. To study the cellular functions of Smad3, we generated Smad3 null mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) and dermal fibroblasts. We demonstrate that null MEFs have lost the ability to form Smad-containing DNA binding complexes and are unable to induce transcription from the TGF-beta-responsive promoter construct, p3TP-lux. Using the primary dermal fibroblasts, we also demonstrate that Smad3 is integral for induction of endogenous plasminogen activator inhibitor 1. We subsequently demonstrate that Smad3 null MEFs are partially resistant to TGF-beta's antiproliferative effect, thus firmly establishing a role for Smad3 in TGF-beta-mediated growth inhibition. We next examined cells in which Smad3 is most highly expressed, specifically cells of immune origin. Although no specific developmental defect was detected in the immune system of the Smad3 null mice, a functional defect was observed in the ability of TGF-beta to inhibit the proliferation of splenocytes activated by specific stimuli. In addition, primary splenocytes display defects in TGF-beta-mediated repression of cytokine production. These data, taken together, establish a role for Smad3 in mediating the antiproliferative effects of TGF-beta and implicate Smad3 as a potential effector for TGF-beta in modulating immune system function. (+info
Molecular cloning of the Notophthalmus viridescens radical fringe cDNA and characterization of its expression during forelimb development and adult forelimb regeneration.
Larval and adult newts provide important experimental models to study limb development and regeneration. These animals have exceptional ability to regenerate their appendages, as well as other vital structures. Our research examines the role of the fringe gene (fng) in the developing and regenerating adult newt forelimb. Fringe codes for a secretory protein. It was first discovered in Drosophila, and later homologues were isolated in Xenopus laevis, chick and mouse. This gene has been highly conserved throughout evolution, indicating its crucial role in vertebrate and invertebrate development. We have isolated, cloned, and sequenced the full length of the Notophthalmus viridescens radical fringe cDNA (nrFng) by screening a newt forelimb blastema cDNA library with a 500-bp fragment of the Xenopus lunatic fringe cDNA. The newt fringe cDNA codes for a 396 amino acid protein with a predicted N-terminal signal sequence. Newt fringe shows high homology with radical fringe homologues of many species. Whole mount mRNA in situ hybridization on several stages of newt limb development reveals that nrFng is first expressed in the limb field, with intense expression as the limb bud develops. However, gene expression diminishes with more advanced digit development. A significant role in adult forelimb regeneration is also evident, as we isolated the cDNA from a regeneration-specific library and found it highly expressed during the regenerative phases of active cell division and then down regulated at sites undergoing differentiation and morphogenesis. (+info
Salinomycin-induced polyneuropathy in cats: morphologic and epidemiologic data.
In April 1996, an outbreak of toxic polyneuropathy in cats occurred in the Netherlands. All cats had been fed one of two brands of dry cat food from one manufacturer. Chemical analyses of these foods, stomach contents, and liver and kidney of affected cats revealed contamination with the ionophor salinomycin. Epidemiologic and clinical data were collected from 823 cats, or about 1% of the cats at risk. In 21 affected cats, postmortem examination was performed. The affected cats had acute onset of lameness and paralysis of the hindlimbs followed by the forelimbs. Clinical and pathologic examination indicated a distal polyneuropathy involving both the sensory and motor nerves. (+info
Hindlimb patterning and mandible development require the Ptx1 gene.
The restricted expression of the Ptx1 (Pitx1) gene in the posterior half of the lateral plate mesoderm has suggested that it may play a role in specification of posterior structures, in particular, specification of hindlimb identity. Ptx1 is also expressed in the most anterior ectoderm, the stomodeum, and in the first branchial arch. Ptx1 expression overlaps with that of Ptx2 in stomodeum and in posterior left lateral plate mesoderm. We now show that targeted inactivation of the mouse Ptx1 gene severely impairs hindlimb development: the ilium and knee cartilage are absent and the long bones are underdeveloped. Greater reduction of the right femur size in Ptx1 null mice suggests partial compensation by Ptx2 on the left side. The similarly sized tibia and fibula of mutant hindlimbs may be taken to resemble forelimb bones: however, the mutant limb buds appear to have retained their molecular identity as assessed by forelimb expression of Tbx5 and by hindlimb expression of Tbx4, even though Tbx4 expression is decreased in Ptx1 null mice. The hindlimb defects appear to be, at least partly, due to abnormal chondrogenesis. Since the most affected structures derive from the dorsal side of hindlimb buds, the data suggest that Ptx1 is responsible for patterning of these dorsal structures and that as such it may control development of hindlimb-specific features. Ptx1 inactivation also leads to loss of bones derived from the proximal part of the mandibular mesenchyme. The dual role of Ptx1 revealed by the gene knockout may reflect features of the mammalian jaw and hindlimbs that were acquired at a similar time during tetrapod evolution. (+info
The response of the brachial ventral horn or Xenopus laevis to forelimb amputation during development.
The normal development of the brachial ventral horn of the frog Xenopus laevis and the response of the brachial ventral horn to complete forelimb extirpation at five developmental stages were assessed histologically. Differentiation of brachial ventral horn neurons occurred in pre-metamorphic tadpoles between stages 52/53 and 57. Mean cell number in the brachial ventral horn reached a peak of 2576 (S.E.M. equals +/- 269, N equals 2) per side of the spinal cord at stage 55 and decreased to 1070 (S.E.M. equals +/- 35, n equals 7) by the end of metamorphosis. Cell degeneration was presumed to be the mode of cell loss since it was most prevalent during the period of rapid decrease in cell numbers. The response of the ventral horn to forelimb removal varied with the stage of the animal at amputation. Following amputation at stage 52/53 or 54 the ipsilateral ventral horn neurons appeared less differentiated than those on the control side and a rapid cell loss of about 80% occurred on the operated side. These effects occurred more rapidly after ablation at stage 54 than at stage 52/53. Amputation at stage 58, 61, or 66 caused chromatolysis in the ventral horn, a period of relative cell excess on the operated side, and a delayed neuronal loss of 32-66%. It was concluded that excess cell degeneration accounted for cell loss and that suppression of normal neuronal degeneration caused the relative cell excess on the operated side. The data indicate that the brachial ventral horn was indifferent to the periphery before stage 54, was quickly affected by limb removal between stages 54 and 58, and by stage 58 had entered a phase in which a delay preceded cell death. No forelimb regeneration occurred. (+info