Cellular wound response in Schmidtea mediterranea
All known animals heal their wounds, a process that is essential to their survival. Our current understanding of wound healing is based on the study of a handful of model systems, which often are not among the most efficient in repairing tissue damage. Therefore, it is very likely that key, yet underappreciated aspects of wound healing are not represented in our current body of knowledge. We aim to test this hypothesis by studying the flatworm planaria Schmidtea mediterranea, which possesses remarkably rapid but largely unexplored wound healing capacities. The goal of my research is to investigate the cellular wound response in planaria and use it to (i) broaden wound response representation across animal Kingdom; (ii) provide a detailed characterization of wound healing in an animal with a very high regenerative potential; and (iii) mechanistically delineate the cellular biology responsible for the rapid wound healing in planaria.
Figure: The morphological plasticity of the planarian epithelium: Epidermal cells (bronze) lose their apical-basal polarity, elongate, extend lamellipodia, and start to crawl over the wound’s surface (grey) within the first 5 minutes after decapitation. Schmidtea mediterranea, Scanning electron micrograph.