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Data from LIM-HD transcription factors control axial patterning and specify distinct neuronal and intestinal cell identities in planarians

posted on 2023-11-17, 13:30 authored by M. Dolores Molina, Dema Abduljabbar, Anna Guixeras, Susanna Fraguas, Francesc Cebrià
Adult planarians can regenerate the gut, eyes and even a functional brain. Proper identity and patterning of the newly formed structures require signals that guide and commit their adult stem cells. During embryogenesis, LIM-Homeodomain (LIM-HD) transcription factors act in a combinatorial ‘LIM code’ to control cell fate determination and differentiation. However, our understanding about the role these genes play during regeneration and homeostasis is limited. Here, we report the full repertoire of LIM-HD genes in Schmidtea mediterranea. We found that lim homeobox genes (lhx) appear expressed in complementary patterns along the cephalic ganglia and digestive system of the planarian, with some of them being co-expressed in the same cell types. We have identified that Smed-islet1, -lhx1/5-1, -lhx2/9-3, -lhx6/8, -lmx1a/b-2 and -lmx1a/b-3 are essential to pattern and size the planarian brain as well as for correct regeneration of specific subpopulations of dopaminergic, serotonergic, GABAergic and cholinergic neurons, while Smed-lhx1/5.2 and -lhx2/9.2 are required for the proper expression of intestinal cell type markers, specifically the goblet subtype. LIM-HD are also involved in controlling axonal pathfinding (lhx6/8), axial patterning (islet1, lhx1/5-1, lmx1a/b-3), head/body proportions (islet2) and stem cell proliferation (lhx3/4, lhx2/9-3, lmx1a/b-2, lmx1a/b-3). Altogether, our results suggest that planarians might present a combinatorial LIM code that controls axial patterning, axonal growing and specify distinct neuronal and intestinal cell identities.