Project description:The origin of bilateral symmetry, a major transition in animal evolution, coincided with the evolution of organized nervous systems that show regionalization along major body axes. Studies of Xenacoelomorpha, the likely outgroup lineage to all other animals with bilateral symmetry, can inform the evolutionary history of animal nervous systems. Here, we characterized the neural anatomy of the acoel Hofstenia miamia. Our analysis of transcriptomic data uncovered orthologues of enzymes for all major neurotransmitter synthesis pathways. Expression patterns of these enzymes revealed the presence of a nerve net and an anterior condensation of neural cells. The anterior condensation was layered, containing several cell types with distinct molecular identities organized in spatially distinct territories. Using these anterior cell types and structures as landmarks, we obtained a detailed timeline for regeneration of the H. miamia nervous system, showing that the anterior condensation is restored by eight days after amputation. Our work detailing neural anatomy in H. miamia will enable mechanistic studies of neural cell type diversity and regeneration and provide insight into the evolution of these processes.
Project description:Wnt signaling regulates primary body axis formation across the Metazoa, with high Wnt signaling specifying posterior identity. Whether a common Wnt-driven transcriptional program accomplishes this broad role is poorly understood. We identified genes acutely affected after Wnt signaling inhibition in the posterior of two regenerative species, the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea and the acoel Hofstenia miamia, which are separated by >550 million years of evolution. Wnt signaling was found to maintain positional information in muscle and regional gene expression in multiple differentiated cell types. sp5, Hox genes, and Wnt pathway components are down-regulated rapidly after ?-catenin RNAi in both species. Brachyury, a vertebrate Wnt target, also displays Wnt-dependent expression in Hofstenia. sp5 inhibits trunk gene expression in the tail of planarians and acoels, promoting separate tail-trunk body domains. A planarian posterior Hox gene, Post-2d, promotes normal tail regeneration. We propose that common regulation of a small gene set-Hox, sp5, and Brachyury-might underlie the widespread utilization of Wnt signaling in primary axis patterning across the Bilateria.
Project description:Planarians have emerged as excellent models for the study of key biological processes such as stem cell function and regulation, axial polarity specification, regeneration, and tissue homeostasis among others. The most widely used organism for these studies is the free-living flatworm Schmidtea mediterranea. In 2007, the Schmidtea mediterranea Genome Database (SmedGD) was first released to provide a much needed resource for the small, but growing planarian community. SmedGD 1.0 has been a depository for genome sequence, a draft assembly, and related experimental data (e.g., RNAi phenotypes, in situ hybridization images, and differential gene expression results). We report here a comprehensive update to SmedGD (SmedGD 2.0) that aims to expand its role as an interactive community resource. The new database includes more recent, and up-to-date transcription data, provides tools that enhance interconnectivity between different genome assemblies and transcriptomes, including next-generation assemblies for both the sexual and asexual biotypes of S. mediterranea. SmedGD 2.0 (http://smedgd.stowers.org) not only provides significantly improved gene annotations, but also tools for data sharing, attributes that will help both the planarian and biomedical communities to more efficiently mine the genomics and transcriptomics of S. mediterranea.
Project description:The planarian Schmidtea mediterranea is an important model for stem cell research and regeneration, but adequate genome resources for this species have been lacking. Here we report a highly contiguous genome assembly of S. mediterranea, using long-read sequencing and a de novo assembler (MARVEL) enhanced for low-complexity reads. The S. mediterranea genome is highly polymorphic and repetitive, and harbours a novel class of giant retroelements. Furthermore, the genome assembly lacks a number of highly conserved genes, including critical components of the mitotic spindle assembly checkpoint, but planarians maintain checkpoint function. Our genome assembly provides a key model system resource that will be useful for studying regeneration and the evolutionary plasticity of core cell biological mechanisms.
Project description:Studies of tissue regeneration and host-pathogen interactions using the model planarian Schmidtea mediterranea have been performed at an experimental temperature of 19?°C. S. mediterranea planarians exposed to 19?°C-32?°C were observed for survival, mobility, feeding and regeneration for three months and elimination of the Staphylococcus aureus pathogen over six days. S. mediterranea planarians died at 30?°C-32?°C after 18 days of observation but tolerated temperatures of 19?°C up to 28?°C with non-significant differences in mobility and feeding behavior. Genetic malleability tested by RNAi feeding was still efficient at 26?°C and 28?°C. Concerning the immune capacity of planarians, we reported an exacerbation of the immune response in worms infected by S. aureus at 26?°C and 28?°C. These observations suggest a temperature modulation of planarian stem cells and illustrate the importance of modulating experimental temperature when using planarians as model organisms to study regeneration and immune response.