Chan JD, Zhang D, Liu X, Zarowiecki MZ, Berriman M, Marchant JS
Data Brief 2016 Dec;9:1044-1047
This data article provides a transcriptomic resource for the free living planarian flatworm Dugesia japonica related to the research article entitled ‘Utilizing the planarian voltage-gated ion channel transcriptome to resolve a role for a Ca(2+) channel in neuromuscular function and regeneration (J.D. Chan, D. Zhang, X. Liu, M. Zarowiecki, M. Berriman, J.S. Marchant, 2016) . Data provided in this submission comprise sequence information for the unfiltered de novo assembly, the filtered assembly and a curated analysis of voltage-gated like (VGL) ion channel sequences mined from this resource. Availability of this data should facilitate further adoption of this model by laboratories interested in studying the role of individual genes of interest in planarian physiology and regenerative biology.
Currie KW, Molinaro AM, Pearson BJ
Elife 2016 Nov;5
The asexual freshwater planarian is a constitutive adult, whose central nervous system (CNS) is in a state of constant homeostatic neurogenesis. However, very little is known about the extrinsic signals that act on planarian stem cells to modulate rates of neurogenesis. We have identified two planarian homeobox transcription factors, Smed-nkx2.1 and Smed-arx, which are required for the maintenance of cholinergic, GABAergic, and octopaminergic neurons in the planarian CNS. These very same neurons also produce the planarian hedgehog ligand (Smed-hh), which appears to communicate with brain-adjacent stem cells to promote normal levels of neurogenesis. Planarian stem cells nearby the brain express core hh signal transduction genes, and consistent hh signaling levels are required to maintain normal production of neural progenitor cells and new mature cholinergic neurons, revealing an important mitogenic role for the planarian hh signaling molecule in the adult CNS.
Lakshmanan V, Bansal D, Kulkarni J, Poduval D, Krishna S, Sasidharan V, Anand P, Seshasayee A, Palakodeti D
G3 (Bethesda) 2016 Oct;6(10):3035-3048
In eukaryotes, 3′ untranslated regions (UTRs) play important roles in regulating posttranscriptional gene expression. The 3’UTR is defined by regulated cleavage/polyadenylation of the pre-mRNA. The advent of next-generation sequencing technology has now enabled us to identify these events on a genome-wide scale. In this study, we used poly(A)-position profiling by sequencing (3P-Seq) to capture all poly(A) sites across the genome of the freshwater planarian, Schmidtea mediterranea, an ideal model system for exploring the process of regeneration and stem cell function. We identified the 3’UTRs for ∼14,000 transcripts and thus improved the existing gene annotations. We found 97 transcripts, which are polyadenylated within an internal exon, resulting in the shrinking of the ORF and loss of a predicted protein domain. Around 40% of the transcripts in planaria were alternatively polyadenylated (ApA), resulting either in an altered 3’UTR or a change in coding sequence. We identified specific ApA transcript isoforms that were subjected to miRNA mediated gene regulation using degradome sequencing. In this study, we also confirmed a tissue-specific expression pattern for alternate polyadenylated transcripts. The insights from this study highlight the potential role of ApA in regulating the gene expression essential for planarian regeneration.
Roberts-Galbraith RH, Brubacher JL, Newmark PA
Elife 2016 Sep;5
Planarians regenerate all body parts after injury, including the central nervous system (CNS). We capitalized on this distinctive trait and completed a gene expression-guided functional screen to identify factors that regulate diverse aspects of neural regeneration in Schmidtea mediterranea. Our screen revealed molecules that influence neural cell fates, support the formation of a major connective hub, and promote reestablishment of chemosensory behavior. We also identified genes that encode signaling molecules with roles in head regeneration, including some that are produced in a previously uncharacterized parenchymal population of cells. Finally, we explored genes downregulated during planarian regeneration and characterized, for the first time, glial cells in the planarian CNS that respond to injury by repressing several transcripts. Collectively, our studies revealed diverse molecules and cell types that underlie an animal’s ability to regenerate its brain.
Deochand ME, Birkholz TR, Beane WS
Regeneration (Oxf) 2016 Aug;3(4):209-221
While tissue regeneration is typically studied using standard injury models, in nature injuries vary greatly in the amount and location of tissues lost. Planarians have the unique ability to regenerate from many different injuries (including from tiny fragments with no brain), allowing us to study the effects of different injuries on regeneration timelines. We followed the timing of regeneration for one organ, the eye, after multiple injury types that involved tissue loss (single- and double-eye ablation, and decapitation) in Schmidtea mediterranea. Our data reveal that the timing of regeneration remained constant despite changing injury parameters. Optic tissue regrowth, nerve re-innervation, and functional recovery were similar between injury types (even when the animal was simultaneously regrowing its brain). Changes in metabolic rate (i.e., starving vs. fed regenerates) also had no effect on regeneration timelines. In addition, our data suggest there may exist a role for optic nerve degeneration following eye ablation. Our results suggest that the temporal regulation of planarian eye regeneration is tightly controlled and resistant to variations in injury type.
Iyer H, Issigonis M, Sharma PP, Extavour CG, Newmark PA
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2016 Jun;113(25):E3509-18
Mutations in Deleted in Azoospermia (DAZ), a Y chromosome gene, are an important cause of human male infertility. DAZ is found exclusively in primates, limiting functional studies of this gene to its homologs: boule, required for meiotic progression of germ cells in invertebrate model systems, and Daz-like (Dazl), required for early germ cell maintenance in vertebrates. Dazl is believed to have acquired its premeiotic role in a vertebrate ancestor following the duplication and functional divergence of the single-copy gene boule. However, multiple homologs of boule have been identified in some invertebrates, raising the possibility that some of these genes may play other roles, including a premeiotic function. Here we identify two boule paralogs in the freshwater planarian Schmidtea mediterranea Smed-boule1 is necessary for meiotic progression of male germ cells, similar to the known function of boule in invertebrates. By contrast, Smed-boule2 is required for the maintenance of early male germ cells, similar to vertebrate Dazl To examine if Boule2 may be functionally similar to vertebrate Dazl, we identify and functionally characterize planarian homologs of human DAZL/DAZ-interacting partners and DAZ family mRNA targets. Finally, our phylogenetic analyses indicate that premeiotic functions of planarian boule2 and vertebrate Dazl evolved independently. Our study uncovers a premeiotic role for an invertebrate boule homolog and offers a tractable invertebrate model system for studying the premeiotic functions of the DAZ protein family.
Iyer H, Collins JJ, Newmark PA
PLoS Genet. 2016 Jun;12(6):e1006109
Gametes are the source and carrier of genetic information, essential for the propagation of all sexually reproducing organisms. Male gametes are derived from a progenitor stem cell population called spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs). SSCs give rise to male gametes through the coordination of two essential processes: self-renewal to produce more SSCs, and differentiation to produce mature sperm. Disruption of this equilibrium can lead to excessive proliferation of SSCs, causing tumorigenesis, or can result in aberrant differentiation, leading to infertility. Little is known about how SSCs achieve the fine balance between self-renewal and differentiation, which is necessary for their remarkable output and developmental potential. To understand the mechanisms of SSC maintenance, we examine the planarian homolog of Nuclear Factor Y-B (NF-YB), which is required for the maintenance of early planarian male germ cells. Here, we demonstrate that NF-YB plays a role in the self-renewal and proliferation of planarian SSCs, but not in their specification or differentiation. Furthermore, we characterize members of the NF-Y complex in Schistosoma mansoni, a parasitic flatworm related to the free-living planarian. We find that the function of NF-YB in regulating male germ cell proliferation is conserved in schistosomes. This finding is especially significant because fecundity is the cause of pathogenesis of S. mansoni. Our findings can help elucidate the complex relationship between self-renewal and differentiation of SSCs, and may also have implications for understanding and controlling schistosomiasis.
Vásquez-Doorman C, Petersen CP
Regeneration (Oxf) 2016 Jun;3(3):168-78
Regeneration involves precise control of cell fate to produce an appropriate complement of tissues formed within a blastema. Several chromatin-modifying complexes have been identified as required for regeneration in planarians, but it is unclear whether this class of molecules uniformly promotes the production of differentiated cells. We identify a function for p66, encoding a DNA-binding protein component of the NuRD (nucleosome remodeling and deacetylase) complex, as well as the chromodomain helicase chd4, in suppressing production of photoreceptor neurons (PRNs) in planarians. This suppressive effect appeared restricted to PRNs because p66 inhibition did not influence numbers of eye pigment cup cells (PCCs) and decreased numbers of brain neurons and epidermal progenitors. PRNs from p66(RNAi) animals differentiated with some abnormalities but nonetheless produced arrestin+ projections to the brain. p66 inhibition produced excess ovo+otxA+ PRN progenitors without affecting numbers of ovo+otxA- PCC progenitors, and ovo and otxA were each required for the p66(RNAi) excess PRN phenotype. Together these results suggest that p66 acts through the NuRD complex to suppress PRN production by limiting expression of lineage-specific transcription factors.
Peiris TH, Ramirez D, Barghouth PG, Ofoha U, Davidian D, Weckerle F, Oviedo NJ
Development 2016 May;143(10):1697-709
Cellular fate decisions are influenced by their topographical location in the adult body. For instance, tissue repair and neoplastic growth are greater in anterior than in posterior regions of adult animals. However, the molecular underpinnings of these regional differences are unknown. We identified a regional switch in the adult planarian body upon systemic disruption of homologous recombination with RNA-interference of Rad51 Rad51 knockdown increases DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) throughout the body, but stem cells react differently depending on their location along the anteroposterior axis. In the presence of extensive DSBs, cells in the anterior part of the body resist death, whereas cells in the posterior region undergo apoptosis. Furthermore, we found that proliferation of cells with DNA damage is induced in the presence of brain tissue and that the retinoblastoma pathway enables overproliferation of cells with DSBs while attending to the demands of tissue growth and repair. Our results implicate both autonomous and non-autonomous mechanisms as key mediators of regional cell behavior and cellular transformation in the adult body.
Saberi A, Jamal A, Beets I, Schoofs L, Newmark PA
PLoS Biol. 2016 May;14(5):e1002457
Planarians display remarkable plasticity in maintenance of their germline, with the ability to develop or dismantle reproductive tissues in response to systemic and environmental cues. Here, we investigated the role of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) in this dynamic germline regulation. By genome-enabled receptor mining, we identified 566 putative planarian GPCRs and classified them into conserved and phylum-specific subfamilies. We performed a functional screen to identify NPYR-1 as the cognate receptor for NPY-8, a neuropeptide required for sexual maturation and germ cell differentiation. Similar to NPY-8, knockdown of this receptor results in loss of differentiated germ cells and sexual maturity. NPYR-1 is expressed in neuroendocrine cells of the central nervous system and can be activated specifically by NPY-8 in cell-based assays. Additionally, we screened the complement of GPCRs with expression enriched in sexually reproducing planarians, and identified an orphan chemoreceptor family member, ophis, that controls differentiation of germline stem cells (GSCs). ophis is expressed in somatic cells of male and female gonads, as well as in accessory reproductive tissues. We have previously shown that somatic gonadal cells are required for male GSC specification and maintenance in planarians. However, ophis is not essential for GSC specification or maintenance and, therefore, defines a secondary role for planarian gonadal niche cells in promoting GSC differentiation. Our studies uncover the complement of planarian GPCRs and reveal previously unappreciated roles for these receptors in systemic and local (i.e., niche) regulation of germ cell development.