Planarian MBD2/3 is required for adult stem cell pluripotency independently of DNA methylation.
Jaber-Hijazi F., Lo PJKP., Mihaylova Y., Foster JM., Benner JS., Tejada Romero B., Chen C., Malla S., Solana J., Ruzov A., Aziz Aboobaker A.
Planarian adult stem cells (pASCs) or neoblasts represent an ideal system to study the evolution of stem cells and pluripotency as they underpin an unrivaled capacity for regeneration. We wish to understand the control of differentiation and pluripotency in pASCs and to understand how conserved, convergent or divergent these mechanisms are across the Bilateria. Here we show the planarian methyl-CpG Binding Domain 2/3 (mbd2/3) gene is required for pASC differentiation during regeneration and tissue homeostasis. The genome does not have detectable levels of 5-methylcytosine (5(m)C) and we find no role for a potential DNA methylase. We conclude that MBD proteins may have had an ancient role in broadly controlling animal stem cell pluripotency, but that DNA methylation is not involved in planarian stem cell differentiation.