Meeting Abstract

P2.60  Thursday, Jan. 5  Germline development in the basal bilaterian Convolutriloba macropyga SIKES, JM*; DILLON, RL; NEWMARK, PA; Univ. of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana; Univ. of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana; Howard Hughes Medical Institute

The germline is crucial to the biology of all sexually reproducing animals wherein totipotent cells give rise to subsequent generations. To understand how germline specification and development may have evolved within the Bilateria, we have characterized genes with conserved germline function in the Acoela, a lineage basal to other bilaterians. While a single marker has been shown to localize to the acoel germline, little is known about the molecular nature of germ cell development in acoels. We have cloned homologs of argonaute, nanos, piwi, pumilio, and vasa and have characterized their spatiotemporal expression during germline development in the acoel Convolutriloba macropyga. While piwi and vasa are expressed during all stages of germline development, pumilio, nanos, and argonaute are restricted to early or late stages of germ cell maturation respectively. Expression of piwi and vasa was also observed in the primordial germ cells of recent hatchlings, corroborating previous reports of embryonic germline segregation in another acoel species. We are currently examining the possible colocalization of these genes at specific stages of germ cell maturation and attempting to knock down gene function via RNA interference to assess the role these genes play during different stages of germ cell development.