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Development. 2007 Sep;134(17):3121-31. Epub 2007 Aug 1.

smedinx-11 is a planarian stem cell gap junction gene required for regeneration and homeostasis.

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Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology, Forsyth Institute, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The largely unknown mechanisms that regulate adult stem cells probably involve signals from neighboring differentiated cells. Gap junction channels providing direct cell-cell communication via small molecules are a crucial component of morphogenesis and normal physiology. However, no specific gap junction protein has yet been functionally linked to adult/somatic stem cell behavior in vivo or to organ regeneration. We report the identification and characterization of smedinx-11--an innexin gap junction channel gene expressed in the adult stem cells (neoblasts) of the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea. smedinx-11 RNAi treatment inhibits regeneration and abrogates neoblast maintenance. Moreover, smedinx-11 expression is enriched in an irradiation-sensitive subpopulation (;X2') and is required for proper expression of other stem cell-specific markers. Analyses of the smedinx-11 downregulation phenotype revealed a striking anterior-posterior neoblast gradient. Our data demonstrate a novel role for gap junction proteins and suggest gap junction-mediated signaling as a new and tractable control point for adult, somatic stem cell regulation.

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