Genetic Dissection of the Planarian Reproductive System Through Characterization of Schmidtea Mediterranea Cpeb Homologs

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Cytoplasmic polyadenylation is a mechanism of mRNA regulation prevalent in metazoan germ cells; it is largely dependent on Cytoplasmic Polyadenylation Element Binding proteins (CPEBs). Two CPEB homologs were identified in the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea. Smed-CPEB1 is expressed in ovaries and yolk glands of sexually mature planarians, and required for oocyte and yolk gland development. In contrast, Smed-CPEB2 is expressed in the testes and the central nervous system; its function is required for spermatogenesis as well as non-autonomously for development of ovaries and accessory reproductive organs. Transcriptome analysis of CPEB knockdown animals uncovered a comprehensive collection of molecular markers for reproductive structures in S. mediterranea, including ovaries, testes, yolk glands, and the copulatory apparatus. Analysis by RNA interference revealed contributions for a dozen of these genes during oogenesis, spermatogenesis, or capsule formation. We also present evidence suggesting that Smed-CPEB2 promotes translation of Neuropeptide Y-8, a prohormone required for planarian sexual maturation. These findings provide mechanistic insight into potentially conserved processes of germ cell development, as well as events involved in capsule deposition by flatworms.



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