Sproull, Frederick and David, Charles N.
STEM CELL GROWTH AND DIFFERENTIATION IN HYDRA ATTENUATA. II. REGULATION OF NERVE AND NEMATOCYTE DIFFERENTIATION IN MULTICLONE AGGREGATES.
In: Journal of Cell Science, Vol. 38: pp. 171-179
The differentiation of nerve cells and nematocytes from interstitial stem cells in Hydra has been investigated under conditions of changing stem cell density. Interstitial stem cells were cultured in a feeder layer system consisting of aggregates of nitrogen mustard-inactivated tissue. The aggregates were seeded with varying numbers of stem cells from 10 to 400 per aggregate; between 4 and 7 days later the rates of nerve and nematocyte differentiation were measured. Nerve differentiation was scored by labelling the stem cell population with [3H]-thymidine and counting nests of 4 proliferating nematoblasts. In both cases the numbers of differentiating cells were normalized to the size of the stem cell population. The results indicate that the rate of nematocyte differentiation increases as the concentration of stem cells increases in aggregates; under the same conditions the rate of nerve differentiation remains essentially constant. To calculate the numbers of stem cells entering each pathway per generation, a computer was programmed to simulate the growth and differentiation of interstitial stem cells. Standard curves were prepared from the simulations relating the rates of nerve and nematocyte differentiation to the fraction of stem cells committed to each pathway per generation. The rates of nerve and nematocyte commitment were then estimated from the experimentally observed rates of differentiation using the standard curves. The results indicate that nerve commitment remains constant at about 0.13 stem cells per generation over a wide range of stem cell concentration. Nematocyte commitment, by comparison, increases from 0.15 to 0.21 stem cells per generation as stem cell concentration increases in aggregates. The fact that the ratio of nerve to nematocyte commitment changes under our conditions suggests that stem cell commitment is not a stochastic process but subject to control by environmental stimuli.