Holstein, Thomas W. and David, Charles N.
Putative intermediates in the nerve cell differentiation pathway in hydra have properties of multipotent stem cells.
In: Developmental Biology, Vol. 142, No. 2: pp. 401-405
We have investigated the properties of nerve cell precursors in hydra by analyzing the differentiation and proliferation capacity of interstitial cells in the peduncle of Hydra oligactis, which is a region of active nerve cell differentiation. Our results indicate that about 50% of the interstitial cells in the peduncle can grow rapidly and also give rise to nematocyte precursors when transplanted into a gastric environment. If these cells were committed nerve cell precursors, one would not expect them to differentiate into nematocytes nor to proliferate apparently without limit. Therefore we conclude that cycling interstitial cells in peduncles are not intermediates in the nerve cell differentiation pathway but are stem cells. The remaining interstitial cells in the peduncle are in G1 and have the properties of committed nerve cell precursors (Holstein and David, 1986). Thus, the interstitial cell population in the peduncle contains both stem cells and noncycling nerve precursors. The presence of stem cells in this region makes it likely that these cells are the immediate targets of signals which give rise to nerve cells.