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Currently, little is known about the evolution of epigenetic regulation in animal stem cells. Here we demonstrate, using the planarian stem cell system to investigate the role of the COMPASS family of MLL3/4 histone methyltransferases that their function as tumor suppressors in mammalian stem cells is conserved over a long evolutionary distance. To investigate the potential conservation of a genome-wide epigenetic regulatory program in animal stem cells, we assess the effects of Mll3/4 loss of function by performing RNA-seq and ChIP-seq on the G2/M planarian stem cell population, part of which contributes to the formation of outgrowths. We find many oncogenes and tumor suppressors among the affected genes that are likely candidates for mediating MLL3/4 tumor suppression function. Our work demonstrates conservation of an important epigenetic regulatory program in animals and highlights the utility of the planarian model system for studying epigenetic regulation.

Original publication




Journal article


Nature communications

Publication Date





3633 - 3633


Department of Zoology, Tinbergen Building, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PS, UK.


Pluripotent Stem Cells, Animals, Planarians, Tumor Suppressor Proteins, Evolution, Molecular, Regeneration, Epigenesis, Genetic, Oncogenes, Neurogenesis, Histone Methyltransferases