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Hidden in the crowd: primordial germ cells and somatic stem cells in the mesodermal posterior growth zone of the polychaete Platynereis dumerillii are two distinct cell populations

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Author(s): Rebscher Nicole | Lidke Anika | Ackermann Christian

Journal: EvoDevo
ISSN 2041-9139

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 9;
Date: 2012;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background In the polychaete Platynereis, the primordial germ cells (PGCs) emerge from the vasa, piwi, and PL10 expressing mesodermal posterior growth zone (MPGZ) at the end of larval development, suggesting a post-embryonic formation from stem cells. Methods In order to verify this hypothesis, embryos and larvae were pulse labeled with the proliferation marker 5-ethynyl-2'-deoxyuridine (EdU) at different stages of development. Subsequently, the PGCs were visualized in 7-day-old young worms using antibodies against the Vasa protein. Results Surprisingly, the primordial germ cells of Platynereis incorporate EdU only shortly before gastrulation (6-8 hours post fertilization (hpf)), which coincides with the emergence of four small blastomeres from the mesoblast lineage. We conclude that these so-called 'secondary mesoblast cells' constitute the definitive PGCs in Platynereis. In contrast, the cells of the MPGZ incorporate EdU only from the pre-trochophore stage onward (14 hpf). Conclusion While PGCs and the cells of the MPGZ in Platynereis are indistinguishable in morphology and both express the germline markers vasa, nanos, and piwi, a distinct cluster of PGCs is detectable anterior of the MPGZ following EdU pulse-labeling. Indeed the PGCs form independently from the stem cells of the MPGZ prior to gastrulation. Our data suggest an early PGC formation in the polychaete by preformation rather than by epigenesis.
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