Epithelial-mesenchymal transition transcription factors control pluripotent adult stem cell migration in vivo in planarians.
Abnave P., Aboukhatwa E., Kosaka N., Thompson J., Hill MA., Aboobaker AA.
Migration of stem cells underpins the physiology of metazoan animals. For tissues to be maintained, stem cells and their progeny must migrate and differentiate in the correct positions. This need is even more acute after tissue damage by wounding or pathogenic infection. Inappropriate migration also underpins metastasis. Despite this, few mechanistic studies address stem cell migration during repair or homeostasis in adult tissues. Here, we present a shielded X-ray irradiation assay that allows us to follow stem cell migration in planarians. We demonstrate the use of this system to study the molecular control of stem cell migration and show that snail-1, snail-2 and zeb-1 EMT transcription factor homologs are necessary for cell migration to wound sites and for the establishment of migratory cell morphology. We also observed that stem cells undergo homeostatic migration to anterior regions that lack local stem cells, in the absence of injury, maintaining tissue homeostasis. This requires the polarity determinant notum Our work establishes planarians as a suitable model for further in-depth study of the processes controlling stem cell migration in vivo.