Dev Biol 2016 10 16;418(1):179-188. Epub 2016 Aug 16.
Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA; Department of Genetics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
The cellular turnover of adult tissues and injury-induced repair proceed through an exquisite integration of proliferation, differentiation, and survival signals that involve stem/progenitor cell populations, their progeny, and differentiated tissues. GATA factors are DNA binding proteins that control stem cells and the development of tissues by activating or repressing transcription. Here we examined the role of GATA transcription factors in Schmidtea mediterranea, a freshwater planarian that provides an excellent model to investigate gene function in adult stem cells, regeneration, and differentiation. Smed-gata4/5/6, the homolog of the three mammalian GATA-4,-5,-6 factors is expressed at high levels in differentiated gut cells but also at lower levels in neoblast populations, the planarian stem cells. Smed-gata4/5/6 knock-down results in broad differentiation defects, especially in response to injury. These defects are not restricted to the intestinal lineage. In particular, at late time points during the response to injury, loss of Smed-gata4/5/6 leads to decreased neoblast proliferation and to gene expression changes in several neoblast subpopulations. Thus, Smed-gata4/5/6 plays a key evolutionary conserved role in intestinal differentiation in planarians. These data further support a model in which defects in the intestinal lineage can indirectly affect other differentiation pathways in planarians.