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Muscle cells provide instructions for planarian regeneration.

Abstract

Regeneration requires both potential and instructions for tissue replacement. In planarians, pluripotent stem cells have the potential to produce all new tissue. The identities of the cells that provide regeneration instructions are unknown. Here, we report that position control genes (PCGs) that control regeneration and tissue turnover are expressed in a subepidermal layer of nonneoblast cells. These subepidermal cells coexpress many PCGs. We propose that these subepidermal cells provide a system of body coordinates and positional information for regeneration, and identify them to be muscle cells of the planarian body wall. Almost all planarian muscle cells express PCGs, suggesting a dual function: contraction and control of patterning. PCG expression is dynamic in muscle cells after injury, even in the absence of neoblasts, suggesting that muscle is instructive for regeneration. We conclude that planarian regeneration involves two highly flexible systems: pluripotent neoblasts that can generate any new cell type and muscle cells that provide positional instructions for the regeneration of any body region.

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