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BMC Biol. 2019 Feb 22;17(1):16. doi: 10.1186/s12915-019-0633-9.

Analysis of sea star larval regeneration reveals conserved processes of whole-body regeneration across the metazoa.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University, Mellon Institute, 4400 Fifth Ave, Pittsburgh, PA, 15213, USA.
Department of Biological Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University, Mellon Institute, 4400 Fifth Ave, Pittsburgh, PA, 15213, USA.



Metazoan lineages exhibit a wide range of regenerative capabilities that vary among developmental stage and tissue type. The most robust regenerative abilities are apparent in the phyla Cnidaria, Platyhelminthes, and Echinodermata, whose members are capable of whole-body regeneration (WBR). This phenomenon has been well characterized in planarian and hydra models, but the molecular mechanisms of WBR are less established within echinoderms, or any other deuterostome system. Thus, it is not clear to what degree aspects of this regenerative ability are shared among metazoa.


We characterize regeneration in the larval stage of the Bat Star (Patiria miniata). Following bisection along the anterior-posterior axis, larvae progress through phases of wound healing and re-proportioning of larval tissues. The overall number of proliferating cells is reduced following bisection, and we find evidence for a re-deployment of genes with known roles in embryonic axial patterning. Following axial respecification, we observe a significant localization of proliferating cells to the wound region. Analyses of transcriptome data highlight the molecular signatures of functions that are common to regeneration, including specific signaling pathways and cell cycle controls. Notably, we find evidence for temporal similarities among orthologous genes involved in regeneration from published Platyhelminth and Cnidarian regeneration datasets.


These analyses show that sea star larval regeneration includes phases of wound response, axis respecification, and wound-proximal proliferation. Commonalities of the overall process of regeneration, as well as gene usage between this deuterostome and other species with divergent evolutionary origins reveal a deep similarity of whole-body regeneration among the metazoa.


Echinoderm; Regeneration; Sea star; Transcriptome

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