Successful regeneration of missing tissues requires seamless integration of positional information along the body axes. Planarians, which regenerate from almost any injury, use conserved, developmentally important signaling pathways to pattern the body axes. However, the molecular mechanisms which facilitate crosstalk between these signaling pathways to integrate positional information remain poorly understood. Here, we report a p21-activated kinase (smed-pak1) which functionally integrates the anterior-posterior (AP) and the medio-lateral (ML) axes. pak1 inhibits WNT/β-catenin signaling along the AP axis and, functions synergistically with the β-catenin-independent WNT signaling of the ML axis. Furthermore, this functional integration is dependent on warts and merlin – the components of the Hippo/Yorkie (YKI) pathway. Hippo/YKI pathway is a critical regulator of body size in flies and mice, but our data suggest the pathway is required to pattern body axes in planarians. Our study provides a signaling network integrating positional information which can mediate coordinated growth and patterning during planarian regeneration.
Address reprint requests to: Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado