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Dev Cell. 2006 Aug;11(2):159-69.

A Bruno-like gene is required for stem cell maintenance in planarians.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, B107 Chemical and Life Science Laboratory, 601 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, Illinois 61801,USA.


The regenerative abilities of freshwater planarians are based on neoblasts, stem cells maintained throughout the animal's life. We show that a member of the Bruno-like family of RNA binding proteins is critical for regulating neoblasts in the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea. Smed-bruno-like (bruli) mRNA and protein are expressed in neoblasts and the central nervous system. Following bruli RNAi, which eliminates detectable Bruli protein, planarians initiate the proliferative response to amputation and form small blastemas but then undergo tissue regression and lysis. We characterize the neoblast population by using antibodies recognizing SMEDWI-1 and Histone H4 (monomethyl-K20) and cell-cycle markers to label subsets of neoblasts and their progeny. bruli knockdown results in a dramatic reduction/elimination of neoblasts. Our analyses indicate that neoblasts lacking Bruli can respond to wound stimuli and generate progeny that can form blastemas and differentiate; yet, they are unable to self-renew. These results suggest that Bruli is required for stem cell maintenance.

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