Inheritance of a Nuclear PIWI from Pluripotent Stem Cells by Somatic Descendants Ensures Differentiation by Silencing Transposons in Planarian

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Differentiation of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) requires transposon silencing throughout the process. PIWIs, best known as key factors in germline transposon silencing, are also known to act in somatic differentiation of planarian PSCs (neoblasts). However, how PIWIs control the latter process remains elusive. Here, using Dugesia japonica, we show that a nuclear PIWI, DjPiwiB, was bound to PIWI-interacting RNAs (generally key mediators of PIWI-dependent transposon silencing), and was detected in not only neoblasts but also their descendant somatic cells, which do not express piwi. In contrast, cytoplasmic DjPiwiA and DjPiwiC were detected only in neoblasts, in accord with their transcription there. DjPiwiB was indispensable for regeneration, but dispensable for transposon silencing in neoblasts. However, transposons were derepressed at the onset of differentiation in DjPiwiB-knockdown planarians. Thus, DjPiwiB appears to be inherited by descendant somatic cells of neoblasts to ensure transposon silencing in those cells, which are unable to produce PIWI proteins.



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