Clonal animals do not sequester a germ line during embryogenesis. Instead, they have adult stem cells that contribute to somatic tissues or gametes. How germ fate is induced in these animals, and whether this process is related to bilaterian embryonic germline induction, is unknown. We show that transcription factor AP2 (Tfap2), a regulator of mammalian germ lines, acts to commit adult stem cells, known as i-cells, to the germ cell fate in the clonal cnidarian Hydractinia symbiolongicarpus Tfap2 mutants lacked germ cells and gonads. Transplanted wild-type cells rescued gonad development but not germ cell induction in Tfap2 mutants. Forced expression of Tfap2 in i-cells converted them to germ cells. Therefore, Tfap2 is a regulator of germ cell commitment across germ line-sequestering and germ line-nonsequestering animals.
Copyright © 2020 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.