Like most bilaterian animals, the annelid Platynereis dumerilii generates the majority of its body axis in an anterior to posterior temporal progression with new segments added sequentially. This process relies on a posterior subterminal proliferative body region, known as the "segment addition zone" (SAZ). We explored some of the molecular and cellular aspects of posterior elongation in Platynereis, in particular to test the hypothesis that the SAZ contains a specific set of stem cells dedicated to posterior elongation. We cloned and characterized the developmental expression patterns of orthologs of 17 genes known to be involved in the formation, behavior, or maintenance of stem cells in other metazoan models. These genes encode RNA-binding proteins (e.g., tudor, musashi, pumilio) or transcription factors (e.g., myc, id, runx) widely conserved in eumetazoans. Most of these genes are expressed both in the migrating primordial germ cells and in overlapping ring-like patterns in the SAZ, similar to some previously analyzed genes ( piwi, vasa). The SAZ patterns are coincident with the expression of proliferation markers cyclin B and PCNA. EdU pulse and chase experiments suggest that new segments are produced through many rounds of divisions from small populations of teloblast-like posterior stem cells. The shared molecular signature between primordial germ cells and posterior stem cells in Platynereis thus corresponds to an ancestral "stemness" program. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.
Gazave, E., Béhague, J., Laplane, L., Guillou, A., Préau, L., Demilly, A., … Vervoort, M. (2013). Posterior elongation in the annelid Platynereis dumerilii involves stem cells molecularly related to primordial germ cells. Developmental Biology, 382(1), 246–267. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2013.07.013