Search for the evolutionary origin of a brain: Planarian brain characterized by microarray

Masumi Nakazawa, Francesc Cebrià, Katsuhiko Mineta, Kazuho Ikeo, Kiyokazu Agata, Takashi Gojobori*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


The origin of the brain remains a challenging problem in evolutionary studies. To understand when and how the structural brain emerged, we analyzed the central nervous system (CNS) of a lower invertebrate, planarian. We conducted a large-scale screening of the head part - specific genes in the planarian by constructing a cDNA microarray. Competitive hybridization of cDNAs between a head portion and the other body portion of planarians revealed 205 genes with head part - specific spikes, including essential genes in the vertebrate nervous system. The expression patterns of the top 30 genes showing the strongest spikes implied that the planarian brain has undergone functional regionalization. We demonstrate the complex cytoarchitecture of the planarian brain, despite its simple superficiality of the morphology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)784-791
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular biology and evolution
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2003


  • Central nervous system
  • Microarray
  • Origin of brain
  • Planarian

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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