Proliferating cells known as neoblasts include pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) that sustain tissue homeostasis and regeneration of lost body parts in planarians. However, the lack of markers to prospectively identify and isolate these adult PSCs has significantly hampered their characterization. We used single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) and single-cell transplantation to address this long-standing issue. Large-scale scRNA-seq of sorted neoblasts unveiled a novel subtype of neoblast (Nb2) characterized by high levels of PIWI-1 mRNA and protein and marked by a conserved cell-surface protein-coding gene, tetraspanin 1 (tspan-1). tspan-1-positive cells survived sub-lethal irradiation, underwent clonal expansion to repopulate whole animals, and when purified with an anti-TSPAN-1 antibody, rescued the viability of lethally irradiated animals after single-cell transplantation. The first prospective isolation of an adult PSC bridges a conceptual dichotomy between functionally and molecularly defined neoblasts, shedding light on mechanisms governing in vivo pluripotency and a source of regeneration in animals. Video Abstract: [Figure presented] Transplantation of a single pluripotent neoblast can restore regenerative ability and viability to lethally irradiated Planaria.
- prospective isolation
- single cell transplantation
- stem cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)