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Gene. 2002 Apr 3;287(1-2):67-74.

Genetic network of the eye in Platyhelminthes: expression and functional analysis of some players during planarian regeneration.

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Departament de Genètica, Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Diagonal 645, E-08071 Barcelona, Spain.


Planarians are the free-living members (order Tricladida) of the phylum Platyhelminthes. They are triploblastic, acoelomate, unsegmented and located at the base of the Lophotrochozoa clade. Besides their huge regenerative capacity, planarians have simple eyes, considered similar to the prototypic eye suggested by Charles Darwin in his book 'On the Origin of Species'. The conserved genetic network that determines the initial steps of eye development across metazoans supports a monophyletic origin of the various eye types present in the animal kingdom. Here we summarise the pattern of expression of certain genes involved in the eye network that have been isolated in planarians, such as Otx, Pax-6, Six, Rax and opsin. We describe the effects of RNA interference-mediated loss of function on eye regeneration. Finally, we discuss the relevance of these findings for the evolution of the eye gene network.

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