Surendra Singh Patel, Sanyami Zunjarrao, and Beena Pillai
Eisenia fetida, the common vermicomposting earthworm, shows robust regeneration of posterior segments removed by amputation. During the period of regeneration, the newly formed tissue initially contains only undifferentiated cells but subsequently differentiates into a variety of cell types including muscle, nerve and vasculature. Transcriptomics analysis, reported previously, provided a number of candidate non-coding RNAs that were induced during regeneration. We found that one such long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) is expressed in the skin, only at the base of newly formed chaetae. The spatial organization and precise arrangement of the regenerating chaetae and the cells expressing the lncRNA on the ventral side clearly support a model wherein the regenerating tissue contains a zone of growth and cell division at the tip and a zone of differentiation at the site of amputation. The temporal expression pattern of the lncRNA, christened Neev, closely resembled the pattern of chitin synthase genes, implicated in chaetae formation. We found that the lncRNA harbours 49 sites for binding a set of four miRNAs while the Chitin Synthase 8 mRNA comprises 478 sites. The over-representation of shared miRNA sites suggests that lncRNA Neev may act as a miRNA sponge to transiently de-repress chitin synthase 8 during formation of new chaetae in the regenerating segments of Eisenia fetida.