Germline self-renewal requires cyst stem cells and stat regulates niche adhesion in Drosophila testes

Nat Cell Biol. 2010 Aug;12(8):806-11. doi: 10.1038/ncb2086. Epub 2010 Jul 11.


Adults maintain tissue-specific stem cells through niche signals. A model for niche function is the Drosophila melanogaster testis, where a small cluster of cells called the hub produce locally available signals that allow only adjacent cells to self-renew. We show here that the principal signalling pathway implicated in this niche, chemokine activation of STAT, does not primarily regulate self-renewal of germline stem cells (GSCs), but rather governs GSC adhesion to hub cells. In fact, GSC renewal does not require hub cell contact, as GSCs can be renewed solely by contact with the second resident stem cell population, somatic cyst stem cells (CySCs), and this involves BMP signalling. These data suggest a modified paradigm whereby the hub cells function as architects of the stem cell environment, drawing into proximity cellular components necessary for niche function. Self-renewal functions are shared by the hub cells and the CySCs. This work also reconciles key differences in GSC renewal between Drosophila testis and ovary niches, and highlights how a niche can coordinate the production of distinct lineages by having one stem cell type rely on a second.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology
  • Germ Cells / cytology
  • Germ Cells / physiology
  • Male
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Stem Cell Niche / physiology*
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Testis / metabolism*