[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The planarian Schmidtea mediterranea is a well-studied model organism for developmental research, because of its stem cell system. This characteristic also provides a unique opportunity to study stress management and the effect of stress on stem cells. In this study, we characterised the stress signature at different levels of biological organization. The carcinogenic metal cadmium was used as a model chemical stressor. We focused on stem cell activity and its interaction with other known stress parameters. Here, we have found that S. mediterranea is able to cope with high internal levels of cadmium. At endpoints such as size and mobility, cadmium-related stress effects were detected but all of these responses were transient. Correspondingly, cadmium exposure led to an elevated mitotic activity of the neoblasts, at the same time points when the other responses disappeared. At the molecular level, we observed redox-related responses that can be linked with both repair as well as proliferation mechanisms. Together, our results suggest that these animals have a high plasticity. The induction of stem cell activity may underlie this 'restoring' effect, although a carcinogenic outcome after longer exposure times cannot be excluded.
The International journal of developmental biology 01/2012; 56(1-3):183-91. · 2.16 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The flatworm species Schmidtea mediterranea and Macrostomum lignano have become new and innovative model organisms in stem cell, regeneration and tissue homeostasis research. Because of their unique stem cell system, (lab) technical advantages and their phylogenetic position within the Metazoa, they are also ideal candidate model organisms for toxicity assays. As stress and biomarker screenings are often performed at the transcriptional level, the aim of this study was to establish a set of reference genes for qPCR experiments for these two model organisms in different stress situations. We examined the transcriptional stability of nine potential reference genes (actb, tubb, ck2, cox4, cys, rpl13, gapdh, gm2ap, plscr1) to assess those that are most stable during altered stress conditions (exposure to carcinogenic metals and salinity stress). The gene expression stability was evaluated by means of geNorm and NormFinder algorithms. Sets of best reference genes in these analyses varied between different stress situations, although gm2ap and actb were stably transcribed during all tested combinations. In order to demonstrate the impact of bad normalisation, the stress-specific gene hsp90 was normalised to different sets of reference genes. In contrast to the normalisation according to GeNorm and NormFinder, normalisation of hsp90 in Macrostomum lignano during cadmium stress did not show a significant difference when normalised to only gapdh. On the other hand an increase of variability was noticed when normalised to all nine tested reference genes together. Testing appropriate reference genes is therefore strongly advisable in every new experimental condition.