convoluta musclebrdu

Stem cells are undifferentiated cells with the ability to self-renew and form differentiated daughter cells. Stem cells are known from most organisms and humans. They exist as pluripotent cell populations, meaning they have limited differentiation potential. Plathelmints, however, have a totipotent stem cell system, meaning that these stem cells - also called neoblasts in these animals - can differentiate into all cell types, including germline cells. Neoblasts are active throughout development, provide permanent cell renewal in adult animals, and form the basis of the extraordinary regenerative capacity of platyhelminthes. Surprisingly, the genes controlling stem cell renewal, regeneration and germline specification are highly conserved and homologous in other model organisms and even up to plants. Our research group is studying the stem cell system of the basal plathelminth Macrostomum lignano and the acoelid Isodiametra pulchra using immunocytochemical, histological, ultrastructural, and molecular methods. The particular characteristics of the stem cell system of Plathelminten, the ease of experimental access, the simplicity of animal husbandry allow the study of basic mechanisms of stem cell maintenance and differentiation. The highly conserved genes involved allow conclusions to be drawn about stem cell systems in other animals and in humans.

Members of this working group


Center for Molecular Biosciences Innsbruck
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