Int. J. Dev. Biol. 51: 345 - 349 (2007)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.062267sh
© UPV/EHU Press

Characterization of novel genes expressed specifically in the sexual organs of the planarian Dugesia ryukyuensis

Sumitaka Hase, Emiko Kashiwagi, Kazuya Kobayashi, Motonori Hoshi and Midori Matsumoto*

Department of Biological Sciences and Informatics, Keio University, Yokohama, Japan

ABSTRACT The planarian Dugesia ryukyuensis reproduces both asexually (fissiparous) and sexually (oviparous) and can switch from the asexual mode to the sexual mode. By feeding with mature Bdellocephala brunnea oviparous worms, the fissiparous worms, which do not possess sexual organs, can be converted to fully sexualized worms in a process termed sexualization. As sexualization proceeds, the sexual organs are formed uniformly and five stages (stages 1­5) of the process have been identified histologically. In order to clarify the sexualization process, we attempted to isolate the genes expressed specifically at stage 5 by the differential display method. We isolated five genes expressed in the testis and two genes expressed in the yolk gland, which is an organ specific to sexualized worms. By BLAST search, one of the testis-specific genes was coded as testis-specific alpha-tubulin and two yolk gland-specific genes are similar to ribose-phosphate pyrophosphokinase I and F-box/SPRY-domain protein 1. Drs1, Drs2 and Drs3 were expressed in spermatocytes and spermatids from the early stage of spermatogenesis and Drs4 and Drs5 were expressed in spermatogonia, spermatocytes and spermatids. These genes are useful markers for elucidating the sexualization process.

Keywords:

planarian, sexualization, point-of-no-return, testis, yolk gland

*Corresponding author e-mail: mmatsumo@bio.keio.ac.jp