Characterization of migration behavior of myogenic precursor cells in the limb bud with respect to Lmx1b expression
Limb buds develop from lateral plate-derived stationary mesenchyme and are invaded by cells from extrinsic regions. The largest populations of these cells are myogenic precursor cells that originate from the lateral dermomyotomes. After detachment under the influence of SF/HGF, myogenic precursor cells migrate in a proximo-distal direction and populate a dorsal and ventral zone. The patterning mechanism leading to the segregation of dorsal and ventral myogenic cells is at present not understood. Lmx1b, a LIM homeodomain transcription factor expressed in the dorsal mesenchyme of the developing limb bud, forms a sharp dorso-ventral boundary of expression within the limb. We have investigated the mechanisms of dorso-ventral patterning of muscle precursor cells in the limb buds with respect to Lmx1b expression using quail-chick chimeras and transgenic mice. Although cells appeared to be capable of migrating either ventrally or dorsally, their migration was restricted to the position they had attained during normal development or in the experimental situation. They were never found to cross the dorso-ventral boundary. Immunohistochemistry and histological analysis of mice carrying a LacZ reporter gene under the control of the endogenous Lmx1b locus confirmed that myogenic precursors in the limb bud were devoid of Lmx1b expression. In addition, it was shown that Lmx1b is not only expressed at early stages of limb development but maintains its pattern, at least until after birth. The present study provides new insights into migratory pathways of myogenic precursor cells and reveals details of Lmx1b expression on a cellular basis within the limb.