Regeneration and maintenance of the planarian midline is regulated by a slit orthologue

Francesc Cebrià, Tingxia Guo, Jessica Jopek, Phillip A. Newmark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Several families of evolutionarily conserved axon guidance cues orchestrate the precise wiring of the nervous system during embryonic development. The remarkable plasticity of freshwater planarians provides the opportunity to study these molecules in the context of neural regeneration and maintenance. Here we characterize a homologue of the Slit family of guidance cues from the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea. Smed-slit is expressed along the planarian midline, in both dorsal and ventral domains. RNA interference (RNAi) targeting Smed-slit results in the collapse of many newly regenerated tissues at the midline; these include the cephalic ganglia, ventral nerve cords, photoreceptors, and the posterior digestive system. Surprisingly, Smed-slit RNAi knockdown animals also develop morphologically distinguishable, ectopic neural structures near the midline in uninjured regions of intact and regenerating planarians. These results suggest that Smed-slit acts not only as a repulsive cue required for proper midline formation during regeneration but that it may also act to regulate the behavior of neural precursors at the midline in intact planarians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)394-406
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 2007


  • Axon guidance
  • Midline
  • Neural differentiation
  • Planarian
  • Regeneration
  • Schmidtea mediterranea
  • Slit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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