Long-range neural and gap junction protein-mediated cues control polarity during planarian regeneration

Néstor J. Oviedo, Junji Morokuma, Peter Walentek, Ido P. Kema, Man Bock Gu, Joo Myung Ahn, Jung Shan Hwang, Takashi Gojobori, Michael Levin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

165 Scopus citations


Having the ability to coordinate the behavior of stem cells to induce regeneration of specific large-scale structures would have far-reaching consequences in the treatment of degenerative diseases, acute injury, and aging. Thus, identifying and learning to manipulate the sequential steps that determine the fate of new tissue within the overall morphogenetic program of the organism is fundamental. We identified novel early signals, mediated by the central nervous system and 3 innexin proteins, which determine the fate and axial polarity of regenerated tissue in planarians. Modulation of gap junction-dependent and neural signals specifically induces ectopic anterior regeneration blastemas in posterior and lateral wounds. These ectopic anterior blastemas differentiate new brains that establish permanent primary axes re-established during subsequent rounds of unperturbed regeneration. These data reveal powerful novel controls of pattern formation and suggest a constructive model linking nervous inputs and polarity determination in early stages of regeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)188-199
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank K. Watanabe for VC-1 antibody, D. Qiu and WHA de Jong for technical assistance, and Kelly Tseng and other members of the Levin Lab for discussion and suggestions. N.J.O. was supported by NIH under Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F32 GM078774). P.W. was supported by a Herzog-Carl-Stipend from the University of Hohenheim and thanks M. Blum for his support. This work was supported by NSF grant IBN#0347295 , NHTSA grant 721 DTNH22-06-G-00001 , and NIH grant HD055850 to M.L.; M.L. is also grateful for the support of the G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Charitable Foundation.


  • Gap junctions
  • Neural signals
  • Planaria
  • Polarity
  • Regeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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