David, Charles N. and Murphy, Susan
Characterization of interstitial stem cells in hydra by cloning.
In: Developmental Biology, Vol. 58, No. 2: pp. 372-383
A procedure has been developed for cloning interstitial stem cells from hydra. Clones are prepared by introducing small numbers of viable cells into aggregates of nitrogen mustard-inactivated host tissue. Clones derived from added stem cells are identified after 1–2 weeks of growth by staining with toluidine blue. The incidence of clones increases with increasing input of viable cells according to one-hit Poisson statistics, indicating that clones arise from single cells. After correction for cell losses in the procedure, about 1.2% of the input cells are found to form clones. This compares with estimates from in vivo experiments of about 4% stem cells in whole hydra [David, C. N., and Gierer, A. (1974). Cell cycle kinetics and development of Hydra attenuata. III. Nerve and nematocyte differentiation. J. Cell Sci. 16, 359–375.]
Differentiation of nematocytes and nerve cells in clones was analyzed by labeling precursors with [3H]thymidine and scoring labeled nerves and nematocytes 2 days later. Nine clones examined in this way contained both differentiated nerve cells and nematocytes, demonstrating that the interstitial stem cell is multipotent. This result suggests that the observed localization of nerve and nematocyte differentiation in whole hydra probably occurs at the level of stemcell determination. The observation that differentiated cells occur very early in clone development suggests that a stem cell's decision to proliferate or differentiate is regulated by shortrange feedback signals which are already saturated in young clones.