Mechanisms enabling positional identity re-establishment are likely critical for tissue regeneration. Planarians use Wnt/beta-catenin signaling to polarize the termini of their anteroposterior axis, but little is known about how regeneration signaling restores regionalization along body or organ axes. We identify three genes expressed constitutively in overlapping body- wide transcriptional gradients that control trunk-tail positional identity in regeneration. ptk7 encodes a trunk-expressed kinase-dead Wnt co-receptor, wntP-2 encodes a posterior-expressed Wnt ligand, and ndl-3 encodes an anterior-expressed homolog of conserved FGFRL/nou-darake decoy receptors. ptk7 and wntP-2 maintain and allow appropriate regeneration of trunk tissue position independently of canonical Wnt signaling and with suppression of ndl-3 expression in the posterior. These results suggest that restoration of regional identity in regeneration involves the interpretation and re-establishment of axis-wide transcriptional gradients of signaling molecules.
Lander, R., & Petersen, C. P. (2016). Wnt, Ptk7, and FGFRL expression gradients control trunk positional identity in planarian regeneration. ELife, 5(April 2016). https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.12850