Putative stem cells in the hemolymph and in the intestinal submucosa of the solitary ascidian Styela plicata. uri icon


  • Background: In various ascidian species, circulating stem cells have been documented to be involved in asexual reproduction and whole-body regeneration. Studies of these cell population(s) are mainly restricted to colonial species. Here, we investigate the occurrence of circulating stem cells in the solitary Styela plicata, a member of the Styelidae, a family with at least two independent origins of coloniality. Results: Using flow cytometry, we characterized a population of circulating putative stem cells (CPSCs) in S. plicata and determined two gates likely enriched with CPSCs based on morphology and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity. We found an ALDH?+?cell population with low granularity, suggesting a stem-like state. In an attempt to uncover putative CPSCs niches in S. plicata, we performed a histological survey for hemoblast-like cells, followed by immunohistochemistry with stem cell and proliferation markers. The intestinal submucosa (IS) showed high cellular proliferation levels and high frequency of undifferentiated cells and histological and ultrastructural analyses revealed the presence of hemoblast aggregations in the IS suggesting a possible niche. Finally, we document the first ontogenetic appearance of distinct metamorphic circulatory mesenchyme cells, which precedes the emergence of juvenile hemocytes. Conclusions: We find CPSCs in the hemolymph of the solitary ascidian Styela plicata, presumably involved in the regenerative capacity of this species. The presence of proliferating and undifferentiated mesenchymal cells suggests IS as a possible niche.

publication date

  • 2019