Planarians have a remarkable ability to undergo whole-body regeneration. Successful regeneration outcome is determined by processes like polarity establishment at the wound site, which is followed by pole (organizer) specification. Interestingly, these determinants are almost exclusively expressed by muscles in these animals. However, the molecular toolkit that enables the functional versatility of planarian muscles remains poorly understood. Here we report that SMED_DDX24, a D-E-A-D Box RNA helicase, is necessary for planarian survival and regeneration. We found that DDX24 is enriched in muscles and its knockdown disrupts muscle fiber organization. This leads to defective pole specification, which in turn results in misregulation of many positional control genes specifically during regeneration. ddx24 RNAi also upregulates wound-induced Wnt signalling. Suppressing this ectopic Wnt activity rescues the knockdown phenotype by enabling better anterior pole regeneration. To summarize, our work highlights the role of an RNA helicase in muscle fiber organization, and modulating amputation-induced wnt levels, both of which seem critical for pole re-organization, thereby regulating whole-body regeneration.
Keywords: Anterior pole; Muscle fiber architecture; Planarian regeneration; Positional information; RNA Binding protein; WNT Signalling.
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