Cnidarians: an evolutionarily conserved model system for regeneration?

Dev Dyn. 2003 Feb;226(2):257-67. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.10227.


Cnidarians are among the simplest metazoan animals and are well known for their remarkable regeneration capacity. They can regenerate any amputated head or foot, and when dissociated into single cells, even intact animals will regenerate from reaggregates. This extensive regeneration capacity is mediated by epithelial stem cells, and it is based on the restoration of a signaling center, i.e., an organizer. Organizers secrete growth factors that act as long-range regulators in axis formation and cell differentiation. In Hydra, Wnt and TGF-beta/Bmp signaling pathways are transcriptionally up-regulated early during head regeneration and also define the Hydra head organizer created by de novo pattern formation in aggregates. The signaling molecules identified in Cnidarian regeneration also act in early embryogenesis of higher animals. We suppose that they represent a core network of molecular interactions, which could explain at least some of the mechanisms underlying regeneration in vertebrates.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Cnidaria / physiology*
  • Head / physiology
  • Regeneration / physiology*
  • Urodela / physiology