The steroid hormone ecdysone functions with intrinsic chromatin remodeling factors to control female germline stem cells in Drosophila

Cell Stem Cell. 2010 Nov 5;7(5):581-92. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2010.10.001.


Steroid hormones are known systemic regulators of multiple normal and cancerous tissues; however, whether or how they impact the fate and function of adult stem cells is unclear. In the Drosophila ovary, insulin signals modulate the proliferation and self-renewal of germline stem cells (GSCs), yet despite evidence that additional systemic factors control GSC activity, these have remained largely unknown. Here, we report that ecdysone, a steroid hormone structurally related to mammalian sex steroids, directly regulates adult GSC proliferation and self-renewal independently of insulin signaling. Ecdysone controls GSCs through a functional interaction with the chromatin remodeling factors ISWI, an intrinsic epigenetic factor required for GSC fate and activity, and Nurf301, the largest subunit of the ISWI-containing NURF chromatin remodeling complex. Our findings support a link between systemic steroid hormones and the intrinsic chromatin remodeling machinery as a potential mechanism to promote broad transcriptional programs required for adult stem cell self-renewal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle / physiology
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly / genetics*
  • Drosophila*
  • Ecdysone / genetics
  • Ecdysone / metabolism*
  • Ecdysone / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Germ Cells / cytology
  • Germ Cells / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / metabolism*


  • Ecdysone