Holstein, Thomas W.; Schaller, Chica H.; David, Charles N.
Nerve cell differentiation in hydra requires two signals.
In: Developmental Biology, Vol. 115, No. 1: pp. 9-17
Endogenous signals controlling nerve cell commitment in hydra were investigated using an assay for committed nerve precursors. Extracts of hydra tissue were prepared and tested for their ability to induce nerve cell commitment. The active component in such extracts was identified as a neuropeptide, the head activator [H. C. Schaller and H. Bodenmüller (1981) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 78, 7000–7004], based on its chromatographic properties and reaction with anti-head activator antibody. In addition, synthetic head activator (10−13–10−11 M) was shown to cause nerve cell commitment. Additional experiments demonstrated that committed nerve precursors require a second signal to differentiate nerve cells. Committed precursors induced by treatment of hydra with head activator do not differentiate in whole hydra; but do differentiate when pieces of treated tissue are explanted or when whole animals are simply injured with transverse cuts. The injury stimulus is long-lived. It cannot be replaced with head activator (10−12–10−10 M) but is contained in a methanol extract of hydra tissue.