Retroviral expression of FGF-2 (bFGF) affects patterning in chick limb bud.
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To investigate the role of fibroblast growth factor-2 (basic fibroblast growth factor) in chick limb development, we constructed a replication-defective spleen necrosis virus to ectopically express fibroblast growth factor-2 in stage 20-22 chick limb bud. Because infecting cells in vivo proved to be inefficient, limb bud cells were dissociated, infected in vitro, and then grafted back into host limbs. This procedure caused duplications of anterior skeletal elements, including proximal humerus, distal radius, and digits 2 and 3. Eighty-nine percent of host wings receiving infected grafts at their anterior borders had duplications of one or more of these elements. The frequency of duplication declined dramatically when infected cells were grafted to progressively more posterior sites of host limb buds, and grafting to the posterior border had no effect at all. Several techniques were used to determine the role of infected tissue in forming skeletal duplications. First, staining with an fibroblast growth factor-2 specific monoclonal antibody showed higher than endogenous levels of fibroblast growth factor-2 expression associated with extra elements. Second, the host/donor composition of duplicated elements was determined by simultaneously infecting donor cells with viruses encoding fibroblast growth factor-2 or beta-galactosidase; donor tissue was then visualized by X-gal staining. Patterns of ectopic fibroblast growth factor-2 expression and X-gal staining confirmed the presence of infected donor tissue near duplicated structures, but the duplicated skeletal elements themselves showed very little staining. Similar results were obtained in duplications caused by infected quail wing bud cells grafted to the chick wing bud. These observations suggest that fibroblast growth factor-2-expressing donor tissue induced host tissue to form normally patterned extra elements. In support of this conclusion, implanting beads containing fibroblast growth factor-2 caused partial duplications of digit 2. These data provide the first direct evidence that fibroblast growth factor-2 plays a role in patterning in the limb bud.