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The EGFR signalling pathway in planarian regeneration and homeostasis

During regeneration, neoblasts must be tightly regulated in order to ensure that tissues, organs and structures are properly formed at the right time and in the right place. Epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR) have been shown to regulate cell proliferation, differentiation, migration and adhesion, among others, in a variety of model organisms. Also, they play an important function on the development of the mammalian central nervous system and they are overactivated in many human cancers. However, the function of the EGFR signalling pathway on neoblasts and planarian regeneration remains uncharacterized. Our goal is to understand the function of this pathway on the regulation of planarian stem cells as well as on neural regeneration, through the analysis of its main components and the search of its downstream target genes.

The function of the nervous system on planarian regeneration

The reasons that allow some animals to regenerate remain still to be fully characterized. It has been suggested that in several models with high regenerative capabilities the nervous system could play an important role in this process. Several experimental evidences have suggested that in planarians, similarly to amphibians and annelids, the nervous system may play also a key role in the regenerative process. However, the exact nature of this neural influence remains to be determined. Thus, another goal of our laboratory is to use the currently available molecular tools to characterize the function of the nervous system on the regeneration of the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea. Our aim is to characterize neural factors that could regulate different essential aspects of stem cell biology, such as proliferation, differentiation and migration.

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