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      Refining the Ciona intestinalis Model of Central Nervous System Regeneration

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          Abstract

          Background

          New, practical models of central nervous system regeneration are required and should provide molecular tools and resources. We focus here on the tunicate Ciona intestinalis, which has the capacity to regenerate nerves and a complete adult central nervous system, a capacity unusual in the chordate phylum. We investigated the timing and sequence of events during nervous system regeneration in this organism.

          Methodology/Principal Findings

          We developed techniques for reproducible ablations and for imaging live cellular events in tissue explants. Based on live observations of more than 100 regenerating animals, we subdivided the regeneration process into four stages. Regeneration was functional, as shown by the sequential recovery of reflexes that established new criteria for defining regeneration rates. We used transgenic animals and labeled nucleotide analogs to describe in detail the early cellular events at the tip of the regenerating nerves and the first appearance of the new adult ganglion anlage.

          Conclusions/Significance

          The rate of regeneration was found to be negatively correlated with adult size. New neural structures were derived from the anterior and posterior nerve endings. A blastemal structure was implicated in the formation of new neural cells. This work demonstrates that Ciona intestinalis is as a useful system for studies on regeneration of the brain, brain-associated organs and nerves.

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          Most cited references 50

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          Tunicates and not cephalochordates are the closest living relatives of vertebrates.

          Tunicates or urochordates (appendicularians, salps and sea squirts), cephalochordates (lancelets) and vertebrates (including lamprey and hagfish) constitute the three extant groups of chordate animals. Traditionally, cephalochordates are considered as the closest living relatives of vertebrates, with tunicates representing the earliest chordate lineage. This view is mainly justified by overall morphological similarities and an apparently increased complexity in cephalochordates and vertebrates relative to tunicates. Despite their critical importance for understanding the origins of vertebrates, phylogenetic studies of chordate relationships have provided equivocal results. Taking advantage of the genome sequencing of the appendicularian Oikopleura dioica, we assembled a phylogenomic data set of 146 nuclear genes (33,800 unambiguously aligned amino acids) from 14 deuterostomes and 24 other slowly evolving species as an outgroup. Here we show that phylogenetic analyses of this data set provide compelling evidence that tunicates, and not cephalochordates, represent the closest living relatives of vertebrates. Chordate monophyly remains uncertain because cephalochordates, albeit with a non-significant statistical support, surprisingly grouped with echinoderms, a hypothesis that needs to be tested with additional data. This new phylogenetic scheme prompts a reappraisal of both morphological and palaeontological data and has important implications for the interpretation of developmental and genomic studies in which tunicates and cephalochordates are used as model animals.
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            An optical marker based on the UV-induced green-to-red photoconversion of a fluorescent protein.

            We have cloned a gene encoding a fluorescent protein from a stony coral, Trachyphyllia geoffroyi, which emits green, yellow, and red light. The protein, named Kaede, includes a tripeptide, His-Tyr-Gly, that acts as a green chromophore that can be converted to red. The red fluorescence is comparable in intensity to the green and is stable under usual aerobic conditions. We found that the green-red conversion is highly sensitive to irradiation with UV or violet light (350-400 nm), which excites the protonated form of the chromophore. The excitation lights used to elicit red and green fluorescence do not induce photoconversion. Under a conventional epifluorescence microscope, Kaede protein expressed in HeLa cells turned red in a graded fashion in response to UV illumination; maximal illumination resulted in a 2,000-fold increase in the ratio of red-to-green signal. These color-changing properties provide a simple and powerful technique for regional optical marking. A focused UV pulse creates an instantaneous plane source of red Kaede within the cytosol. The red spot spreads rapidly throughout the cytosol, indicating its free diffusibility in the compartment. The extensive diffusion allows us to delineate a single neuron in a dense culture, where processes originating from many different somata are present. Illumination of a focused UV pulse onto the soma of a Kaede-expressing neuron resulted in filling of all processes with red fluorescence, allowing visualization of contact sites between the red and green neurons of interest.
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              Deuterostome phylogeny reveals monophyletic chordates and the new phylum Xenoturbellida.

              Deuterostomes comprise vertebrates, the related invertebrate chordates (tunicates and cephalochordates) and three other invertebrate taxa: hemichordates, echinoderms and Xenoturbella. The relationships between invertebrate and vertebrate deuterostomes are clearly important for understanding our own distant origins. Recent phylogenetic studies of chordate classes and a sea urchin have indicated that urochordates might be the closest invertebrate sister group of vertebrates, rather than cephalochordates, as traditionally believed. More remarkable is the suggestion that cephalochordates are closer to echinoderms than to vertebrates and urochordates, meaning that chordates are paraphyletic. To study the relationships among all deuterostome groups, we have assembled an alignment of more than 35,000 homologous amino acids, including new data from a hemichordate, starfish and Xenoturbella. We have also sequenced the mitochondrial genome of Xenoturbella. We support the clades Olfactores (urochordates and vertebrates) and Ambulacraria (hemichordates and echinoderms). Analyses using our new data, however, do not support a cephalochordate and echinoderm grouping and we conclude that chordates are monophyletic. Finally, nuclear and mitochondrial data place Xenoturbella as the sister group of the two ambulacrarian phyla. As such, Xenoturbella is shown to be an independent phylum, Xenoturbellida, bringing the number of living deuterostome phyla to four.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS ONE
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                1932-6203
                2009
                12 February 2009
                : 4
                : 2
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Marine Ecology, Göteborg University, Fiskebäckskil, Sweden
                [2 ]U1126/INRA 〈〈Morphogenèse du système nerveux des chordés〉〉 group, DEPSN, UPR2197, Institut Fessard, CNRS, Gif sur Yvette, France
                [3 ]Shimoda Marine Research Center, University of Tsukuba, Shimoda, Shizuoka, Japan
                Centre de Regulacio Genomica, Spain
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: CMOD HA MT JSJ. Performed the experiments: CMOD HA. Analyzed the data: CMOD HA SD JSJ. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: YS. Wrote the paper: CMOD HA SD MT JSJ.

                Article
                08-PONE-RA-05823R1
                10.1371/journal.pone.0004458
                2639796
                19212465
                Dahlberg et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Page count
                Pages: 13
                Categories
                Research Article
                Developmental Biology
                Developmental Biology/Morphogenesis and Cell Biology
                Developmental Biology/Neurodevelopment
                Neuroscience/Neurobiology of Disease and Regeneration

                Uncategorized

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