Year of publication:
Journal title abbreviated:
MOL BIOL EVOL
Journal title long:
Molecular biology and evolution
How distinct stem cell populations originate and whether there is a clear stem cell "genetic signature" remain poorly understood. Understanding the evolution of stem cells requires molecular profiling of stem cells in an animal at a basal phylogenetic position. In this study, using transgenic Hydra polyps, we reveal for each of the three stem cell populations a specific signature set of transcriptions factors and of genes playing key roles in cell type-specific function and interlineage communication. Our data show that principal functions of stem cell genes, such as maintenance of stemness and control of stem cell self-renewal and differentiation, arose very early in metazoan evolution. They are corroborating the view that stem cell types shared common, multifunctional ancestors, which achieved complexity through a stepwise segregation of function in daughter cells.