The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 46: 329 - 332 (2002)

Vol 46, Issue 3

Planarian pharynx regeneration revealed by the expression of myosin heavy chain-A

Published: 1 May 2002

Tomoko Sakai, Kentaro Kato, Kenji Watanabe and Hidefumi Orii

Department of Life Science, Faculty of Science, Himeji Institute of Technology, Akou-gun, Hyogo, Japan.


The pharynx is a distinctive organ in the center of the body of planarians. Although the process of pharynx regeneration has been studied previously, the details and mechanism of the process remain controversial. We examined the process of regeneration of the pharynx in the planarian Dugesia japonica in detail by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry for myosin heavy chain-A (DjMHC-A), which is mainly expressed in the pharynx muscles and pharynx-anchoring muscles. We also monitored the behavior of the neoblasts in this process. In the regenerating posterior body fragment, the pharyngeal rudiment was formed by accumulation of cells that were probably undifferentiated cells derived from the neoblasts. The pharynx muscles appeared to differentiate in the rudiment in a manner that was coordinated with the differentiation of the pharynx-anchoring muscles in the region surrounding the rudiment. During this process, all cells containing mRNA for DjMHC-A also contained the DjMHC-A protein. These results argue against a previously proposed hypothesis that in the mesenchyme, 'pharynx-forming cells', which are committed to differentiate into the pharyngeal cells but have not yet differentiated, gather in the rudiment to form the pharynx (Agata and Watanabe, 1999). Rather, the present observations suggest that regeneration of the planarian pharynx proceeds by accumulation of cells that are probably undifferentiated cells derived from neoblasts in the rudiment, followed by their differentiation into the pharyngeal cells there.

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