Differential regulation of fibroblast growth factor receptors in the regenerating amphibian spinal cord in vivo

F Zhang, J D W Clarke, L Santos-Ruiz, P Ferretti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Unlike mammals, adult urodele amphibians can regenerate their spinal cord and associated ganglia, but the molecular mechanisms controlling regeneration are not fully understood. We have recently shown that expression of FGF2, a member of the fibroblast growth factor family, is induced in the progenitor cells of the regenerating spinal cord and appears to play a role in their proliferation and possibly in their differentiation. In order to investigate which receptor(s) may mediate FGF2 signaling and their role in regeneration, we have studied expression of the four fibroblast growth factor receptors, FGFR1, FGFR2, FGFR3 and FGFR4, and of the spliced variants, sFGFR and KGFR, in the regenerating spinal cord of the adult urodele, Pleurodeles waltl, following tail amputation. We show that all FGFRs are expressed in normal and regenerating spinal cord, with the exception of the spliced variants that are expressed only in non-neural tissues of the tail. FGFR1 and 4 show the more interesting spatio-temporal patterns of expression. They are not detectable in the ependymal cells of normal cords, from which neural progenitors for regeneration are believed to originate, though they are expressed in some mature neurons. During regeneration, significant up-regulation of FGFR1 precedes that of FGFR4 in the ependymal tube from which the new cord will form. FGFR4 is highly expressed in these cells at later stages of regeneration, when neuronal differentiation is becoming apparent, and like FGFR1 is also expressed in some newborn neurons. In addition to the known form of FGFR1, the antibody against this receptor reacts also with a non-phosphorylated protein that appears to be present only during regeneration, and might represent a yet undescribed variant of the receptor. Altogether this study shows that fibroblast growth factor signaling is finely modulated during tail and spinal cord regeneration, and points to FGFR1 and FGFR4 as key players in this process, suggesting that FGFR1 is primarily associated with proliferation of progenitor cells and FGFR4 with early stages of neuronal differentiation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)837-48
Number of pages12
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Animals
  • Spinal Cord
  • Gene Expression
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Receptors, Fibroblast Growth Factor
  • Pleurodeles
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 1
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 4
  • Nerve Regeneration
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 2
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 3
  • Up-Regulation
  • Tail


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