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Mech Dev. 2011 Sep-Dec;128(7-10):457-70. doi: 10.1016/j.mod.2011.09.001. Epub 2011 Sep 10.

Role of Vasa, Piwi, and Myc-expressing coelomic cells in gonad regeneration of the colonial tunicate, Botryllus primigenus.

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  • 1Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biotechnology, Faculty of Science, Kochi University, Kochi, Japan. kazuk@cc.kochi-u.ac.jp


In the colonial tunicate, Botryllus primigenus Oka, gonads consist of indifferent germline precursor cells, the primordial testis and ovary, and mature gonads, of which the immature gonad components can be reconstructed de novo in vascular buds that arise from the common vascular system, although the mechanism is uncertain. In this study, we investigated how and what kinds of cells regenerated the gonad components. We found that few Vasa-positive cells in the hemocoel entered the growing vascular bud, where their number increased, and finally developed exclusively into female germ cells. Simultaneously, small cell aggregates consisting of Vasa(-) and Vasa(±) cells appeared de novo in the lateral body cavity of developing vascular buds. Double fluorescent in situ hybridization showed that these cell aggregates were both Piwi- and Myc-positive. They could form germline precursor cells and a primordial testis and ovary that strongly expressed Vasa. Myc knockdown by RNA interference conspicuously lowered Piwi expression and resulted in the loss of germline precursor cells without affecting Vasa(+) oocyte formation. Myc may contribute to gonad tissue formation via Piwi maintenance. When human recombinant BMP 4 was injected in the test vessel, coelomic Piwi(+) cells were induced to express Vasa in the blood. We conclude, therefore, that in vascular buds of B. primigenus, female germ cells can develop from homing Vasa(+) cells in the blood, and that other gonad components can arise from coelomic Vasa(-)/Piwi(+)/Myc(+) cells.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

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