A transcriptional time-course analysis of oral vs. aboral whole-body regeneration in the Sea anemone Nematostella vectensis

Amos A. Schaffer, Michael Bazarsky, Karine Levy, Vered Chalifa-Caspi, Uri Gat*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background: The ability of regeneration is essential for the homeostasis of all animals as it allows the repair and renewal of tissues and body parts upon normal turnover or injury. The extent of this ability varies greatly in different animals with the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis, a basal cnidarian model animal, displaying remarkable whole-body regeneration competence. Results: In order to study this process in Nematostella we performed an RNA-Seq screen wherein we analyzed and compared the transcriptional response to bisection in the wound-proximal body parts undergoing oral (head) or aboral (tail) regeneration at several time points up to the initial restoration of the basic body shape. The transcriptional profiles of regeneration responsive genes were analyzed so as to define the temporal pattern of differential gene expression associated with the tissue-specific oral and aboral regeneration. The identified genes were characterized according to their GO (gene ontology) assignations revealing groups that were enriched in the regeneration process with particular attention to their affiliation to the major developmental signaling pathways. While some of the genes and gene groups thus analyzed were previously known to be active in regeneration, we have also revealed novel and surprising candidate genes such as cilia-associated genes that likely participate in this important developmental program. Conclusions: This work highlighted the main groups of genes which showed polarization upon regeneration, notably the proteinases, multiple transcription factors and the Wnt pathway genes that were highly represented, all displaying an intricate temporal balance between the two sides. In addition, the evolutionary comparison performed between regeneration in different animal model systems may reveal the basic mechanisms playing a role in this fascinating process.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number718
JournalBMC Genomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 7 Sep 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Author(s).


  • Cilia
  • Head vs. tail regeneration
  • Homeobox genes
  • Major axis polarization
  • Metalloproteinase
  • Nematostella vectensis
  • Regeneration
  • Wnt pathway


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