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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

An amputation resets positional information to a proximal identity in the regenerating zebrafish caudal fin

Ana Sofia Azevedo123, Sara Sousa13, António Jacinto124 and Leonor Saúde12*

Author Affiliations

1 Instituto de Medicina Molecular e Instituto de Histologia e Biologia do Desenvolvimento, Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, 1649-028, Portugal

2 Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras, P-2780-156, Portugal

3 PhD Programme in Experimental Biology and Biomedicine, Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Universidade de Coimbra, Coimbra, 3004-517, Portugal

4 CEDOC – Faculdade de Ciências Médicas, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lisbon, 1169-056, Portugal

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BMC Developmental Biology 2012, 12:24  doi:10.1186/1471-213X-12-24

Published: 25 August 2012



Zebrafish has emerged as a powerful model organism to study the process of regeneration. This teleost fish has the ability to regenerate various tissues and organs like the heart, spinal cord, retina and fins. In this study, we took advantage of the existence of an excellent morphological reference in the zebrafish caudal fin, the bony ray bifurcations, as a model to study positional information upon amputation. We investigated the existence of positional information for bifurcation formation by performing repeated amputations at different proximal-distal places along the fin.


We show that, while amputations performed at a long distance from the bifurcation do not change its final proximal-distal position in the regenerated fin, consecutive amputations done at 1 segment proximal to the bifurcation (near the bifurcation) induce a positional reset and progressively shift its position distally. Furthermore, we investigated the potential role of Shh and Fgf signalling pathways in the determination of the bifurcation position and observed that they do not seem to be involved in this process.


Our results reveal that, an amputation near the bifurcation inhibits the formation of the regenerated bifurcation in the pre-amputation position, inducing a distalization of this structure. This shows that the positional memory for bony ray bifurcations depends on the proximal-distal level of the amputation.

Caudal fin regeneration; Bony ray bifurcations; Shh; Fgf; Zebrafish