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Dev Biol. 2004 May 15;269(2):346-59.

Djeyes absent (Djeya) controls prototypic planarian eye regeneration by cooperating with the transcription factor Djsix-1.

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Dipartimento di Fisiologia e Biochimica, Università di Pisa, Pisa, Italy.

Erratum in

  • Dev Biol. 2004 Sep 1;273(1):172-3.


A conserved network of nuclear proteins is crucial to eye formation in both vertebrates and invertebrates. The finding that freshwater planarians can regenerate eyes without the contribution of Pax6 suggests that alternative combinations of regulatory elements may control the morphogenesis of the prototypic planarian eye. To further dissect the molecular events controlling eye regeneration in planarians, we investigated the role of eyes absent (Djeya) and six-1 (Djsix-1) genes in Dugesia japonica. These genes are expressed in both regenerating eyes and in differentiated photoreceptors of intact adults. Through RNAi studies, we show that Djsix-1 and Djeya are both critical for the regeneration of normal eyes in planarians and genetically cooperate in vivo to establish correct eye cell differentiation. We further demonstrate that the genetic interaction is mediated by physical interaction between the evolutionarily conserved domains of these two proteins. These data indicate that planarians use cooperatively Djsix-1 and Djeya for the proper specification of photoreceptors, implicating that the mechanism involving their evolutionarily conserved domains can be very ancient. Finally, both Djsix-1 and Djeya double-stranded RNA are substantially more effective at producing no-eye phenotypes in the second round of regeneration. This is probably due to the significant plasticity of the planarian model system, based on the presence of a stable population of totipotent stem cells, which ensure the rapid cell turnover of all differentiated cell types.

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