Contribution of mesenterial muscle dedifferentiation to intestine regeneration in the sea cucumber Holothuria glaberrima
Holothurians (sea cucumbers) have been known from ancient times to have the capacity to regenerate their internal organs. In the species Holothuria glaberrima, intestinal regeneration involves the formation of thickenings along the free mesentery edge; these thickenings will later give rise to the regenerated organ. We have previously documented that a remodeling of the extracellular matrix and changes in the muscle layer occur during the formation of the intestinal primordium. In order to analyze these changes in depth, we have now used immunocytochemical techniques and transmission electron microscopy. Our results show a striking disorganization of the muscle layer together with myocyte dedifferentiation. This dedifferentiation involves nucleic activation, disruptions of intercellular junctions, and the disappearance of cell projections, but more prominently, the loss of the contractile apparatus by the formation and elimination of spindle-like structures. Muscle dedifferentiation can be seen as early as 2 days following evisceration and continues during the next 2 weeks of the regeneration process. Dedifferentiation of myocytes might result in cells that proliferate and give rise to new myocytes. Alternatively, dedifferentiating myocytes could give rise to cells with high nuclear-to-cytoplasmic ratios, with some being eliminated by apoptosis. Our results, together with those in other regeneration models, show that myocyte dedifferentiation is a common event in regeneration processes and that the dedifferentiated cells might play an important role in the formation of the new tissues or organs.
KeywordsRegeneration Dedifferentiation Organogenesis Muscle Sea cucumber Holothuria glaberrima (Echinodermata)
We thank Griselle Valentin for technical assistance with the immunocyochemical experiments and Mr. Camillo Cangani for assistance with the transmission electron microscope.
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