[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: While olfaction is one of the most important senses in most terrestrial mammals, it is absent in modern toothed whales (Odontoceti, Cetacea). Furthermore, behavioral evidence suggests that gustation is very limited. In contrast, their aquatic sistergroup, baleen whales (Mysticeti) retain small but functional olfactory organs, and nothing is known about their gustation. It is difficult to investigate mysticete chemosensory abilities because experiments in a controlled setting are impossible.
Here, we use the functional regionalization of the olfactory bulb (OB) to identify the loss of specific olfactory functions in mysticetes. We provide the whole-genome sequence of a mysticete and show that mysticetes lack the dorsal domain of the OB, an area known to induce innate avoidance behavior against odors of predators and spoiled foods. Genomic and fossil data suggest that mysticetes lost the dorsal domain of the OB before the Odontoceti-Mysticeti split. Furthermore, we found that all modern cetaceans are revealed to have lost the functional taste receptors.
These results strongly indicate that profound changes in the chemosensory capabilities had occurred in the cetacean lineage during the period when ancestral whales migrated from land to water.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Planarians belong to an evolutionarily early group of organisms that possess a central nervous system including a well-organized brain with a simple architecture but many types of neurons. Planarians display a number of behaviors, such as phototaxis and thermotaxis, in response to external stimuli, and it has been shown that various molecules and neural pathways in the brain are involved in controlling these behaviors. However, due to the lack of combinatorial assay methods, it remains obscure whether planarians possess higher brain functions, including integration in the brain, in which multiple signals coming from outside are coordinated and used in determining behavioral strategies.
In the present study, we designed chemotaxis and thigmotaxis/kinesis tracking assays to measure several planarian behaviors in addition to those measured by phototaxis and thermotaxis assays previously established by our group, and used these tests to analyze planarian chemotactic and thigmotactic/kinetic behaviors. We found that headless planarian body fragments and planarians that had specifically lost neural activity following regeneration-dependent conditional gene knockdown (Readyknock) of synaptotagmin in the brain lost both chemotactic and thigmotactic behaviors, suggesting that neural activity in the brain is required for the planarian's chemotactic and thigmotactic behaviors. Furthermore, we compared the strength of phototaxis, chemotaxis, thigmotaxis/kinesis, and thermotaxis by presenting simultaneous binary stimuli to planarians. We found that planarians showed a clear order of predominance of these behaviors. For example, when planarians were simultaneously exposed to 400 lux of light and a chemoattractant, they showed chemoattractive behavior irrespective of the direction of the light source, although exposure to light of this intensity alone induces evasive behavior away from the light source. In contrast, when the light intensity was increased to 800 or 1600 lux and the same dose of chemoattractant was presented, planarian behaviors were gradually shifted to negative phototaxis rather than chemoattraction. These results suggest that planarians may be capable of selecting behavioral strategies via the integration of discrete brain functions when exposed to multiple stimuli.
The planarian brain processes external signals received through the respective sensory neurons, thereby resulting in the production of appropriate behaviors. In addition, planarians can adjust behavioral features in response to stimulus conditions by integrating multiple external signals in the brain.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We established a laboratory clonal strain of freshwater planarian (Dugesia japonica) that was derived from a single individual and that continued to undergo autotomous asexual reproduction for more than 20 years, and we performed large-scale genome sequencing and transcriptome analysis on it. Despite the fact that a completely clonal strain of the planarian was used, an unusually large number of mutations were detected. To enable quantitative genetic analysis of such a unique organism, we developed a new model called the Reference Gene Model, and used it to conduct large-scale transcriptome analysis. The results revealed large numbers of mutations not only outside but also inside gene-coding regions. Non-synonymous SNPs were detected in 74% of the genes for which valid ORFs were predicted. Interestingly, the high-mutation genes, such as metabolism- and defense-related genes, were correlated with genes that were previously identified as diverse genes among different planarian species. Although a large number of amino acid substitutions were apparently accumulated during asexual reproduction over this long period of time, the planarian maintained normal body-shape, behaviors, and physiological functions. The results of the present study reveal a unique aspect of asexual reproduction.
PLoS ONE 11/2015; 10(11):e0143525. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0143525 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The planarian Dugesia japonica tends to stay near the walls of its breeding containers and experimental dishes in the laboratory, a phenomenon called "wall preference". This behavior is thought to be important for environmental adaptation, such as hiding by planarians in nature. However, the mechanisms regulating wall-preference behavior are not well understood, since this behavior occurs in the absence of any particular stimulation. Here we show the mechanisms of wall-preference behavior. Surprisingly, planarian wall-preference behavior was also shown even by the head alone and by headless planarians. These results indicate that planarian "wall-preference" behavior only appears to be a "preference" behavior, and is actually an outcome of spontaneous behaviors, rather than of brain function. We found that in the absence of environmental cues planarians moved basically straight ahead until they reached a wall, and that after reaching a wall, they changed their direction of movement to one tangential to the wall, suggesting that this spontaneous behavior may play a critical role in the wall preference. When we tested another spontaneous behavior, the wigwag movement of the planarian head, using computer simulation with various wigwag angles and wigwag intervals, large wigwag angle and short wigwag interval reduced wall-preference behavior. This indicated that wigwag movement may determine the probability of staying near the wall or leaving the wall. Furthermore, in accord with this simulation, when we tested planarian wall-preference behavior using several assay fields with different curvature of the wall, we found that concavity and sharp curvature of walls negatively impacted wall preference by affecting the permissible angle of the wigwag movement. Together, these results indicate that planarian wall preference may be involuntarily caused by the combination of two spontaneous planarian behaviors: moving straight ahead until reaching a wall and then moving along it in the absence of environmental cues, and wigwag movements of the head.
PLoS ONE 11/2015; 10(11):e0142214. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0142214 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A functional joint requires integration of multiple tissues: the apposing skeletal elements should form an interlocking structure, and muscles should insert into skeletal tissues via tendons across the joint. Whereas newts can regenerate functional joints after amputation, Xenopus laevis regenerates a cartilaginous rod without joints, a “spike”. Previously we reported that the reintegration mechanism between the remaining and regenerated tissues has a significant effect on regenerating joint morphogenesis during elbow-joint regeneration in newt (Tsutsumi et al., 2015). Based on this insight into the importance of reintegration, we amputated frogs’ limbs at the elbow joint, and found that frogs could regenerate a functional elbow joint between the remaining tissues and regenerated spike. During regeneration, the regenerating cartilage was partially connected to the remaining articular cartilage to reform the interlocking structure of the elbow joint at the proximal end of the spike. Furthermore, the muscles of the remaining part inserted into the regenerated spike cartilage via tendons. This study might open up an avenue for analyzing molecular and cellular mechanisms of joint regeneration using Xenopus. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Animal bodies are shaped by skeletons, which are built inside the body by biomineralization of condensed mesenchymal cells in vertebrates [1, 2] and echinoderms [3, 4], or outside the body by apical secretion of extracellular matrices by epidermal cell layers in arthropods . In each case, the skeletons' shapes are a direct reflection of the pattern of skeleton-producing cells . Here we report a newly discovered mode of skeleton formation: assembly of sponges' mineralized skeletal elements (spicules) in locations distant from where they were produced. Although it was known that internal skeletons of sponges consist of spicules assembled into large pole-and-beam structures with a variety of morphologies [7-10], the spicule assembly process (i.e., how spicules become held up and connected basically in staggered tandem) and what types of cells act in this process remained unexplored. Here we found that mature spicules are dynamically transported from where they were produced and then pierce through outer epithelia, and their basal ends become fixed to substrate or connected with such fixed spicules. Newly discovered "transport cells" mediate spicule movement and the "pierce" step, and collagen-secreting basal-epithelial cells fix spicules to the substratum, suggesting that the processes of spiculous skeleton construction are mediated separately by specialized cells. Division of labor by manufacturer, transporter, and cementer cells, and iteration of the sequential mechanical reactions of "transport," "pierce," "raise up," and "cementation," allows construction of the spiculous skeleton spicule by spicule as a self-organized biological structure, with the great plasticity in size and shape required for indeterminate growth, and generating the great morphological diversity of individual sponges.
Current biology: CB 09/2015; 25(19). DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2015.08.023 · 9.57 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A DNA library is a collection of DNA fragments cloned into vectors and stored individually in host cells, and is a valuable resource for molecular cloning, gene physical mapping, and genome sequencing projects. To take the best advantage of a DNA library, a good screening method is needed. After describing pooling strategies and issues that should be considered in DNA library screening, here we report an efficient colony multiplex quantitative PCR-based 3-step, 3-dimension, and binary-code (3S3DBC) method we used to screen genes from a planarian genomic DNA fosmid library. This method requires only 3 rounds of PCR reactions and only around 6 hours to distinguish one or more desired clones from a large DNA library. According to the particular situations in different research labs, this method can be further modified and simplified to suit their requirements.
PLoS ONE 02/2015; 10(2):e0116997. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0116997 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Urodele amphibians, such as newts, can regenerate a functional limb, including joints, after amputation at any level along the proximal-distal axis of the limb. The blastema can regenerate the limb morphology largely independently of the stump after proximal-distal identity has been established, but the remaining and regenerated tissues must be structurally reintegrated (matched in size and shape). Here we used newt joint regeneration as a model to investigate reintegration, because a functionally interlocking joint requires structural integration between its opposing skeletal elements. After forelimbs were amputated at the elbow joint, the joint was regenerated between the remaining and regenerated skeletal elements. The regenerated cartilage was thick around the amputated joint to make a reciprocally interlocking joint structure with the remaining bone. Furthermore, during regeneration, the extracellular matrix (ECM) of the remaining tissues was lost, suggesting that the remaining tissues might contribute to the morphogenesis of regenerating cartilage. Our results showed that the area of the regenerated cartilage matched the area of the apposed remaining cartilage, thus contributing to formation of a functional structure.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Animal evolution is closely linked to the emergence of the nervous system. At present it is unknown how the basic mechanisms of neural induction and formation of central nervous systems evolved. We addressed this question in Nematostella vectensis, a member of cnidarians, the ancient sister group of bilaterians. We found that β-catenin signalling is crucial for the early induction of the embryonic nervous system. β-Catenin activity at the blastopore induces specific neurogenic genes required for development of the oral nervous system. β-Catenin signalling induces also Bmp signalling, which, at later larval stages, becomes indispensible for the maintenance and asymmetric patterning of the oral nervous system along the primary and secondary (directive) axes. We hypothesize that the consecutive and functionally linked involvement of β-catenin and Bmp signalling in the formation of the cnidarian oral nervous system reflects an ancestral mechanism that evolved before the cnidarian/bilaterian split.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The freshwater planarian Dugesia japonica has a simple central nervous system (CNS) and can regenerate complete organs, even a functional brain. Recent studies demonstrated that there is a great variety of neuronal-related genes, specifically expressed in several domains of the planarian brain. We identified a planarian dat gene, named it D. japonica dopamine transporter (Djdat), and analyzed its expression and function. Both in situ hybridization and immunofluorescence revealed that localization of Djdat mRNA and protein was the same as that of D. japonica tyrosine hydroxylase (DjTH). Although, dopamine (DA) content in Djdat(RNAi) planarians was not altered, Djdat(RNAi) planarians showed increased spontaneous locomotion. The hyperactivity in the Djdat(RNAi) planarians was significantly suppressed by SCH23390 or sulpiride pretreatment, which are D1 or D2 receptor antagonists, respectively. These results suggest that planarians have a Djdat ortholog and the ability to regulate dopaminergic neurotransmission and association with spontaneous locomotion.
Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 07/2014; 449(4):412–418. · 2.30 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Planarians have strong regenerative abilities derived from their adult pluripotent stem cell (neoblast) system. However, the molecular mechanisms involved in planarian regeneration have long remained a mystery. In particular, no anterior-specifying factor(s) could be found, although Wnt family proteins had been successfully identified as posterior-specifying factors during planarian regeneration (Gurley et al., 2008; Petersen and Reddien, 2008; Hayashi et al., 2011). A recent textbook of developmental biology therefore proposes a Wnt antagonist as a putative anterior factor (Gilbert, 2013). That is, planarian regeneration was supposed to be explained by a single decreasing gradient of the β-catenin signal from tail to head. However, recently we succeeded in demonstrating that in fact the extracellular-signal regulated kinases (ERK) form a decreasing gradient from head to tail to direct the reorganization of planarian body regionality after amputation (Umesono et al., 2013).