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Dev Growth Differ. 2011 Apr;53(3):300-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-169X.2010.01234.x. Epub 2011 Mar 23.

Optic chiasm formation in planarian I: Cooperative netrin- and robo-mediated signals are required for the early stage of optic chiasm formation.

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Department of Biophysics, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Kitashirakawa-Oiwake, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8502, Japan.


Freshwater planarians can regenerate a brain, including eyes, from the anterior blastema, and coordinately form an optic chiasm during eye and brain regeneration. To investigate the role of the netrin- and slit-signaling systems during optic chiasm formation, we cloned three receptor genes (Djunc5A, Djdcc and DjroboA) expressed in visual neurons and their ligand genes (DjnetB and Djslit) and analyzed their functions by RNA interference (RNAi). Although each of DjroboA(RNAi), Djunc5A(RNAi) and DjnetB(RNAi) showed a weak phenotype and Djslit(RNAi) showed a severe defect of eye formation, we did not observe any defect of crossing of visual axons over the midline among single knockdown planarians. However, among double knockdown planarians, some of DjnetB(RNAi);DjroboA(RNAi) and Djunc5A(RNAi);DjroboA(RNAi) showed complete disconnection between the visual axons from the two sides, suggesting that some combination of netrin- and robo-mediated signals may be required for crossing over the midline. Finally, we carefully investigated the distribution patterns of cells expressing DjNetB protein, DjnetB, and Djslit at the early stage of regeneration, and found that visual axons projected along a path sandwiched between DjNetB protein and Djslit-positive cells. These results suggest that two different collaborative or combinatory signals may be required for midline crossing at the early stage of chiasm formation during eye and brain regeneration.

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