Meeting Abstract

P3.76  Friday, Jan. 6  Wnt signaling promotes oral fates during regeneration and embryogenesis in the cnidarian Nematostella vectensis TREVINO, Michael; STEFANIK, Derek; HARMON, Shane; BURTON, Patrick*; Wabash College; Boston University; Wabash College; Wabash College

Although all metazoans display axial polarity during development, the evolutionary origins of the mechanisms underlying this polarity remain poorly understood. Recent work has identified a conserved role for the canonical Wnt signaling pathway in patterning of the primary axis across a wide variety of taxa. Much of the data now available from non-triploblastic animals originates from study of non-embryonic modes of development, yet the relationship among embryonic and adult (e.g. regeneration) developmental modes is unclear. Using beta-catenin as a marker, we investigated the role of the Wnt signaling pathway during both regeneration and embryogenesis in the cnidarian Nematostella vectensis. Induction of Wnt signaling with alsterpaullone results in ectopic oral tissue development during both regeneration and embryogenesis. The specificity of these effects is demonstrated by upregulation of beta-catenin, as measured by qRTPCR. Our data indicate that canonical Wnt signaling is responsible for oral patterning across Nematostella developmental modes. When interpreted in the context of data from other cnidarians, these results suggest that the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway may have been involved in patterning the primary body axis of the anthozoan-medusozoan common ancestor, and that this signaling module has been recruited to pattern the oral-aboral axis in multiple developmental contexts within Cnidaria. Our data also contribute to a growing body of literature indicating a conserved role for patterning mechanisms across the various developmental modes of metazoans.