Regulated changes in the cell cycle underlie many aspects of growth and differentiation. Prior to meiosis, germ cell cycles in many organisms become accelerated, synchronized, and modified to lack cytokinesis. These changes cause cysts of interconnected germ cells to form that typically contain 2(n) cells. In Drosophila, developing germ cells during this period contain a distinctive organelle, the fusome, that is required for normal cyst formation. We find that the cell cycle regulator Cyclin A transiently associates with the fusome during the cystocyte cell cycles, suggesting that fusome-associated Cyclin A drives the interconnected cells within each cyst synchronously into mitosis. In the presence of a normal fusome, overexpression of Cyclin A forces cysts through an extra round of cell division to produce cysts with 32 germline cells. Female sterile mutations in UbcD1, encoding an E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme, have a similar effect. Our observations suggest that programmed changes in the expression and cytoplasmic localization of key cell cycle regulatory proteins control germline cyst production.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.