The capacity to regenerate lost tissues varies significantly among animals. Some phyla, such as the annelids, display substantial regenerating abilities, although little is known about the cellular mechanisms underlying the process. To precisely determine the origin, plasticity and fate of the cells participating in blastema formation and posterior end regeneration after amputation in the annelid Platynereis dumerilii, we developed specific tools to track different cell populations. Using these tools, we find that regeneration is partly promoted by a population of proliferative gut cells whose regenerative potential varies as a function of their position along the antero-posterior axis of the worm. Gut progenitors from anterior differentiated tissues are lineage restricted, whereas gut progenitors from the less differentiated and more proliferative posterior tissues are much more plastic. However, they are unable to regenerate the stem cells responsible for the growth of the worms. Those stem cells are of local origin, deriving from the cells present in the segment abutting the amputation plane, as are most of the blastema cells. Our results favour a hybrid and flexible cellular model for posterior regeneration in Platynereis relying on different degrees of cell plasticity.

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