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Keywords:

  • brain;
  • central nervous system (CNS);
  • netrin;
  • planarian;
  • regeneration

The planarian central nervous system (CNS) can be used as a model for studying neural regeneration in higher organisms. Despite its simple structure, recent studies have shown that the planarian CNS can be divided into several molecular and functional domains defined by the expression of different neural genes. Remarkably, a whole animal, including the molecularly complex CNS, can regenerate from a small piece of the planarian body. In this study, a collection of neural markers has been used to characterize at the molecular level how the planarian CNS is rebuilt. Planarian CNS is composed of an anterior brain and a pair of ventral nerve cords that are distinct and overlapping structures in the head region. During regeneration, 12 neural markers have been classified as early, mid-regeneration and late expression genes depending on when they are upregulated in the regenerative blastema. Interestingly, the results from this study show that the comparison of the expression patterns of different neural genes supports the view that at day one of regeneration, the new brain appears within the blastema, whereas the pre-existing ventral nerve cords remain in the old tissues. Three stages in planarian CNS regeneration are suggested.