Cnidarians, the extant sister group to bilateria, are well known for their impressive regenerative capacity. The sea anemone Nematostella vectensis is a well-established system for the study of development and evolution that is receiving increased attention for its regenerative capacity. Nematostella is able to regrow missing body parts within five to six days after its bisection, yet studies describing the morphological, cellular, and molecular events underlying this process are sparse and very heterogeneous in their experimental approaches. In this study, we lay down the basic framework to study oral regeneration in Nematostella vectensis. Using various imaging and staining techniques we characterize in detail the morphological, cellular, and global molecular events that define specific landmarks of this process. Furthermore, we describe in vivo assays to evaluate wound healing success and the initiation of pharynx reformation. Using our described landmarks for regeneration and in vivo assays, we analyze the effects of perturbing either transcription or cellular proliferation on the regenerative process. Interestingly, neither one of these experimental perturbations has major effects on wound closure, although they slightly delay or partially block it. We further show that while the inhibition of transcription blocks regeneration in a very early step, inhibiting cellular proliferation only affects later events such as pharynx reformation and tentacle elongation.
Keywords: Nematostella vectensis; marine invertebrate; regeneration; sea anemone; tissue tracking; wound healing.