Strong's Luxoid (1stD) is a semidominant mouse mutation in which heterozygotes show preaxial hindlimb polydactyly, and homozygotes show fore- and hindlimb polydactyly. The digit patterns of these polydactylous limbs resemble those caused by polarizing grafts, since additional digits with posterior character are present at the anterior side of the limb. Such observations suggest that 1stD limb buds might contain a genetically determined ectopic region of polarizing activity. Accordingly, we show that mutant embryos ectopically express the pattern-determining genes fibroblast growth factor 4 (fgf-4), sonic hedgehog (shh), and Hoxd-12 in the anterior region of the limb. Further, we show that anterior mesoderm from mutant limbs exhibits polarizing activity when grafted into host chicken limbs. In contrast to an experimentally derived polydactylous transgenic mouse, forelimbs of homozygotes show a normal pattern of Hoxb-8 expression, indicating that the duplication of polarizing tissue here occurs downstream or independently of Hoxb-8. We suggest that the 1st gene product is involved in anteroposterior axis formation during normal limb development.

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