The objective of this study was to determine whether retinoic acid (RA) coordinately proximalizes positional memory and the cellular recognition system that detects pattern discontinuity in regenerating amphibian limbs. The strategy was to test the capacity of RA-treated blastemas to evoke intercalary regeneration when grafted to an amputation level proximal to their level of origin. Control wrist and ankle, or elbow and knee blastemas treated with the retinoid solvent, dimethylsulphoxide, evoked intercalary regeneration as effectively as untreated blastemas, when grafted to the midstylopodial amputation surface of host limbs. RA-treated wrist and ankle or elbow and knee blastemas were proximalized and formed complete limbs that were at an angle to, or continuous with, the midstylopodium of the host limb. No intercalary regeneration, from either graft or host, was observed in these cases. The results indicate that the cellular mechanism that recognizes disparities between non-neighbouring cells and initiates intercalary regeneration is coordinately proximalized with positional memory. Thus the recognition mechanism and positional memory are directly related. Intercalary regeneration and corrective displacement (affinophoresis), both of which restore a pattern of normal cell neighbours by different means in regenerating axolotl limbs, appear to use the same mechanism to recognize pattern discontinuity.

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