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Metamorphosis is the dramatic and irreversible reconstruction of animal bodies transitioning from the larval stage. Because of the significant impact of metamorphosis on animal life, its timing is strictly regulated. Invertebrate chordate ascidians are the closest living relatives of vertebrates. Ascidians exhibit metamorphosis that converts their swimming larvae into sessile adults. Ascidian metamorphosis is triggered by a mechanical stimulus generated when adhesive papillae adhere to a substrate. However, it is not well understood how the mechanical stimulus is generated and how ascidian larvae sense the stimulus. In this study, we addressed these issues by a combination of embryological, molecular, and genetic experiments in the model ascidian Ciona intestinalis Type A, also called Ciona robusta. We here showed that the epidermal neuronal network starting from the sensory neurons at the adhesive papillae is responsible for the sensing of adhesion. We also found that the transient receptor potential (TRP) channel PKD2 is involved in sensing the stimulus of adhesion. Our results provide a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the regulation of the timing of ascidian metamorphosis. © 2022 Japanese Society of Developmental Biologists.


Aya Sakamoto, Akiko Hozumi, Akira Shiraishi, Honoo Satake, Takeo Horie, Yasunori Sasakura. The TRP channel PKD2 is involved in sensing the mechanical stimulus of adhesion for initiating metamorphosis in the chordate Ciona. Development, growth & differentiation. 2022 Sep;64(7):395-408

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PMID: 36053743

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