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Keywords:

  • Nematostella;
  • Wnt;
  • beta-catenin;
  • cnidaria;
  • regeneration

Abstract

Although regeneration is widespread among metazoa, the molecular mechanisms have been studied in only a handful of taxa. Of these taxa, fewer still are amenable to studies of embryogenesis. Our understanding of the evolution of regeneration, and its relation to embryogenesis, therefore remains limited. Using β-catenin as a marker, we investigated the role of canonical Wnt signaling during both regeneration and embryogenesis in the cnidarian Nematostella vectensis. The canonical Wnt signaling pathway is known to play a conserved role in primary axis patterning in triploblasts. Induction of Wnt signaling with alsterpaullone results in ectopic oral tissue during both regeneration and embryogenesis by specifically upregulating β-catenin expression, as measured by qRTPCR. Our data indicate that canonical Wnt signaling is sufficient for oral patterning during Nematostella regeneration and embryogenesis. These data also contribute to a growing body of literature indicating a conserved role for patterning mechanisms across various developmental modes of metazoans. Developmental Dynamics 240:2673–2679, 2011. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.