An essential dimension of 3D regeneration in adult animals is developmental, with the formation of organizers from somatic tissues. These organizers produce signals that recruit surrounding cells and drive the restoration of the missing structures (organs, appendages, body parts). However, even in animals with a high regenerative potential, this developmental potential is not sufficient to achieve regeneration as homeostatic conditions at the time of injury need to be "pro-regenerative". In Hydra, we identified four distinct homeostatic properties that provide a pro-regenerative framework and we discuss here how these non-developmental properties impact regeneration. First, both the epithelial and the interstitial-derived cells are highly plastic along the animal body, a plasticity that offers several routes to achieve regeneration. Second, the abundant stocks of continuously self-renewing adult stem cells form a constitutive pro-blastema in the central body column, readily activated upon bisection. Third, the autophagy machinery in epithelial cells guarantees a high level of fitness and adaptation to detrimental environmental conditions, as evidenced by the loss of regeneration in animals where autophagy is dysfunctional. Fourth, the extracellular matrix, named mesoglea in Hydra, provides a dynamically-patterned environment where the molecular and mechanical signals induced by injury get translated into a regenerative process. We claim that these homeostatic pro-regenerative features contribute to define the high regenerative potential of adult Hydra.
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