Coordinated Gene Expression and Chromatin Regulation during Hydra Head Regeneration

Genome Biol Evol. 2021 Dec 1;13(12):evab221. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evab221.


The cnidarian model organism Hydra has long been studied for its remarkable ability to regenerate its head, which is controlled by a head organizer located near the hypostome. The canonical Wnt pathway plays a central role in head organizer function during regeneration and during bud formation, which is the asexual mode of reproduction in Hydra. However, it is unclear how shared the developmental programs of head organizer genesis are in budding and regeneration. Time-series analysis of gene expression changes during head regeneration and budding revealed a set of 298 differentially expressed genes during the 48-h head regeneration and 72-h budding time courses. In order to understand the regulatory elements controlling Hydra head regeneration, we first identified 27,137 open-chromatin elements that are open in one or more sections of the organism body or regenerating tissue. We used histone modification ChIP-seq to identify 9,998 candidate proximal promoter and 3,018 candidate enhancer-like regions respectively. We show that a subset of these regulatory elements is dynamically remodeled during head regeneration and identify a set of transcription factor motifs that are enriched in the enhancer regions activated during head regeneration. Our results show that Hydra displays complex gene regulatory structures of developmentally dynamic enhancers, which suggests that the evolution of complex developmental enhancers predates the split of cnidarians and bilaterians.

Keywords: ARX; brachury; FoxM1; JUN/FOS; Wnt.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / genetics
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Hydra* / genetics
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway


  • Chromatin