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Dev Biol. 2007 Jun 15;306(2):714-24. Epub 2007 Apr 18.

Wnt signaling is required for antero-posterior patterning of the planarian brain.

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RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, 2-2-3 Minatojima-minamimachi, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0047, Japan.


Wnt signaling functions in axis formation and morphogenesis in various animals and organs. Here we report that Wnt signaling is required for proper brain patterning during planarian brain regeneration. We showed here that one of the Wnt homologues in the planarian Dugesia japonica, DjwntA, was expressed in the posterior region of the brain. When DjwntA-knockdown planarians were produced by RNAi, they could regenerate their heads at the anterior ends of the fragments, but formed ectopic eyes with irregular posterior lateral branches and brain expansion. This suggests that the Wnt signal may be involved in antero-posterior (A-P) patterning of the planarian brain, as in vertebrates. We also investigated the relationship between the DjwntA and nou-darake/FGFR signal systems, as knockdown planarians of these genes showed similar phenotypes. Double-knockdown planarians of these genes did not show any synergistic effects, suggesting that the two signal systems function independently in the process of brain regeneration, which accords with the fact that nou-darake was expressed earlier than DjwntA during brain regeneration. These observations suggest that the nou-darake/FGFR signal may be involved in brain rudiment formation during the early stage of head regeneration, and subsequently the DjwntA signal may function in A-P patterning of the brain rudiment.

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