The stem cell system in demosponges: Insights into the origin of somatic stem cells
Article first published online: 11 JAN 2010
© 2010 The Author. Journal compilation © 2010 Japanese Society of Developmental Biologists
Development, Growth & Differentiation
Special Issue: Comparative Aspects of Stem Cells
Volume 52, Issue 1, pages 1–14, January 2010
How to Cite
Funayama, N. (2010), The stem cell system in demosponges: Insights into the origin of somatic stem cells. Development, Growth & Differentiation, 52: 1–14. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-169X.2009.01162.x
- Issue published online: 11 JAN 2010
- Article first published online: 11 JAN 2010
- Received 26 August 2009; revised 7 December 2009; accepted 7 December 2009.
- pluripotent stem cell;
The stem cell system is one of the unique systems that have evolved only in multicellular organisms. Major questions about this system include what type(s) of stem cells are involved (pluri-, multi- or uni-potent stem cells), and how the self-renewal and differentiation of stem cells are regulated. To understand the origin of the stem cell system in metazoans and to get insights into the ancestral stem cell itself, it is important to discover the molecular and cellular mechanisms of the stem cell system in sponges (Porifera), the evolutionarily oldest extant metazoans. Histological studies here provided a body of evidence that archeocytes are the stem cells in sponges, and recent molecular studies of sponges, especially the finding of the expression of Piwi homologues in archeocytes and choanocytes in a freshwater sponge, Ephydatia fluviatilis, have provided critical insights into the stem cell system in demosponges. Here I introduce archeocytes and discuss (i) modes of archeocyte differentiation, (ii) our current model of the stem cell system in sponges composed of both archeocytes and choanocytes based on our molecular analysis and previous microscopic studies suggesting the maintenance of pluripotency in choanocytes, (iii) the inference that the Piwi and piRNA function in maintaining stem cells (which also give rise to gametes) may have already been achieved in the ancestral metazoan, and (iv) possible hypotheses about how the migrating stem cells arose in the urmetazoan (protometazoan) and about the evolutionary origin of germline cells in the urbilaterian (protobilaterian).