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Development. 2007 Mar;134(5):833-7. Epub 2007 Jan 24.

Morphogenesis defects are associated with abnormal nervous system regeneration following roboA RNAi in planarians.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Neuroscience Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, B107 Chemical and Life Sciences Laboratory, 601 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.


The process by which the proper pattern is restored to newly formed tissues during metazoan regeneration remains an open question. Here, we provide evidence that the nervous system plays a role in regulating morphogenesis during anterior regeneration in the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea. RNA interference (RNAi) knockdown of a planarian ortholog of the axon-guidance receptor roundabout (robo) leads to unexpected phenotypes during anterior regeneration, including the development of a supernumerary pharynx (the feeding organ of the animal) and the production of ectopic, dorsal outgrowths with cephalic identity. We show that Smed-roboA RNAi knockdown disrupts nervous system structure during cephalic regeneration: the newly regenerated brain and ventral nerve cords do not re-establish proper connections. These neural defects precede, and are correlated with, the development of ectopic structures. We propose that, in the absence of proper connectivity between the cephalic ganglia and the ventral nerve cords, neurally derived signals promote the differentiation of pharyngeal and cephalic structures. Together with previous studies on regeneration in annelids and amphibians, these results suggest a conserved role of the nervous system in pattern formation during blastema-based regeneration.

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