Departament de Genètica, Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Av. Diagonal 645, Edifici Annex, Planta 1, 08028 Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain
Planarian flatworms have an impressive regenerative power. Although their embryonic development is still poorly studied and is highly derived it still displays some simple characteristics. We have identified SpolvlgA, a Schmidtea polychroa homolog of the DDX3/PL10 DEAD-box RNA helicase DjvlgA from the planarian species Dugesia japonica. This gene has been previously described as being expressed in planarian adult stem cells (neoblasts), as well as the germ line. Here we present the expression pattern of SpolvlgA in developing embryos of S. polychroa and show that it is expressed from the first cleavage rounds in blastomere cells and blastomere-derived embryonic cells. These cells are undifferentiated cells that engage in a massive wave of differentiation during stage 5 of development. SpolvlgA expression highlights this wave of differentiation, where nearly all previous structures are substituted by blastomere-derived embryonic cells. In late stages of development SpolvlgA is expressed in most proliferating and differentiating cells. Thus, SpolvlgA is a gene expressed in planarian embryos from the first stages of development and a good marker for the zygote-derived cell lineage in these embryos. Expression in adult worms is also monitored and is found in the planarian germ line, where it is showed to be expressed in spermatogonia, spermatocytes and differentiating spermatids.
Keywords: planarian, embryogenesis, neoblasts, germ line, PL10, DDX3.