Stem Cells

convoluta muscle brdu

Stem cells are undifferentiated cells with the potential to self-renew and the formation of differentiated offspring. Stem cells are known from most organisms. They comprise a pluripotent cell population with limited differentiation potential. Platyhelminth flatworms, however, possess a totipotent stem cell system, i.e. the stem cells - called neoblasts - can differentiate into all cell types including germ cells. Neoblasts are active throughout development and are responsible for permanent cell renewal to ensure tissue homeostasis. Neoblasts are also the basis for the exceptional regenerative capacities of most flatworm species. The genes regulating stem cell renewal, regeneration and germ cell formation are conserved throughout the animal kingdom. Our research group studies the stem cell system of the basal platyhelminth Macrostomum lignano and the acoel Isodiametra pulchra using immunocytochemistry, histology, ultrastructure and molecular methods. The unique stem cell system of flatworm with the ease of culturing these animals enables the study fundamental mechanisms of stem cell maintenance and differentiation. The involved conserved genes allows to draw conclusions from flatworm stem cells to stem cell systems of other animals and humans.

Members of this workgroup

Center for Molecular Biosciences Innsbruck