Evolution of the chordate regeneration blastema: Differential gene expression and conserved role of notch signaling during siphon regeneration in the ascidian Ciona. Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The regeneration of the oral siphon (OS) and other distal structures in the ascidian Ciona intestinalis occurs by epimorphosis involving the formation of a blastema of proliferating cells. Despite the longstanding use of Ciona as a model in molecular developmental biology, regeneration in this system has not been previously explored by molecular analysis. Here we have employed microarray analysis and quantitative real time RT-PCR to identify genes with differential expression profiles during OS regeneration. The majority of differentially expressed genes were downregulated during OS regeneration, suggesting roles in normal growth and homeostasis. However, a subset of differentially expressed genes was upregulated in the regenerating OS, suggesting functional roles during regeneration. Among the upregulated genes were key members of the Notch signaling pathway, including those encoding the delta and jagged ligands, two fringe modulators, and to a lesser extent the notch receptor. In situ hybridization showed a complementary pattern of delta1 and notch gene expression in the blastema of the regenerating OS. Chemical inhibition of the Notch signaling pathway reduced the levels of cell proliferation in the branchial sac, a stem cell niche that contributes progenitor cells to the regenerating OS, and in the OS regeneration blastema, where siphon muscle fibers eventually re-differentiate. Chemical inhibition also prevented the replacement of oral siphon pigment organs, sensory receptors rimming the entrance of the OS, and siphon muscle fibers, but had no effects on the formation of the wound epidermis. Since Notch signaling is involved in the maintenance of proliferative activity in both the Ciona and vertebrate regeneration blastema, the results suggest a conserved evolutionary role of this signaling pathway in chordate regeneration. The genes identified in this investigation provide the foundation for future molecular analysis of OS regeneration.

publication date

  • September 15, 2015