Genetics of gonadal stem cell renewal

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2015;31:291-315. doi: 10.1146/annurev-cellbio-100913-013344. Epub 2015 Sep 3.


Stem cells are necessary for the maintenance of many adult tissues. Signals within the stem cell microenvironment, or niche, regulate the self-renewal and differentiation capability of these cells. Misregulation of these signals through mutation or damage can lead to overgrowth or depletion of different stem cell pools. In this review, we focus on the Drosophila testis and ovary, both of which contain well-defined niches, as well as the mouse testis, which has become a more approachable stem cell system with recent technical advances. We discuss the signals that regulate gonadal stem cells in their niches, how these signals mediate self-renewal and differentiation under homeostatic conditions, and how stress, whether from mutations or damage, can cause changes in cell fate and drive stem cell competition.

Keywords: competition; germline stem cells; niche; oogenesis; self-renewal; somatic stem cells; spermatogenesis; transdifferentiation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Self Renewal / genetics*
  • Cell Self Renewal / physiology*
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila / physiology
  • Female
  • Gonads / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Stem Cell Niche / genetics
  • Stem Cell Niche / physiology
  • Stem Cells / physiology*