Fate specification is spatially intermingled across planarian stem cells

Chanyoung Park, Kwadwo E. Owusu-Boaitey, Giselle M. Valdes & Peter W. Reddien
Nature Communications


Regeneration requires mechanisms for producing a wide array of cell types. Neoblasts are stem cells in the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea that undergo fate specification to produce over 125 adult cell types. Fate specification in neoblasts can be regulated through expression of fate-specific transcription factors. We utilize multiplexed error-robust fluorescence in situ hybridization (MERFISH) and whole-mount FISH to characterize fate choice distribution of stem cells within planarians. Fate choices are often made distant from target tissues and in a highly intermingled manner, with neighboring neoblasts frequently making divergent fate choices for tissues of different location and function. We propose that pattern formation is driven primarily by the migratory assortment of progenitors from mixed and spatially distributed fate-specified stem cells and that fate choice involves stem-cell intrinsic processes.