RGD-containing peptides inhibit intestinal regeneration in the sea cucumber Holothuria glaberrima



The sea cucumber Holothuria glaberrima is an echinoderm capable of regenerating its viscera. Previous studies from our group have shown a striking remodeling of the extracellular matrix (ECM) during intestinal regeneration. To study the role of the ECM during regeneration, we have focused on the RGD sequences present in many ECM molecules. Regenerating animals were treated with an RGDS (Arg-Gly-Asp-Ser) peptide that competes with the interaction between RGD sequence and cellular integrins. Saline and RGES (Arg-Gly-Glu-Ser) peptide injections were done as controls. The size of the regenerating intestine was determined, and the regenerating structures were analyzed by immunohistochemistry for the presence of collagen and fibronectin, as well as for muscle and other cells. The results show a delay in intestinal regeneration in animals injected with the RGDS peptide, suggesting that the ECM–integrin interaction plays an important function in the regenerative process. Developmental Dynamics 231:171–178, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.