Neuroblast niche position is controlled by Phosphoinositide 3-kinase-dependent DE-Cadherin adhesion

Development. 2017 Mar 1;144(5):820-829. doi: 10.1242/dev.136713. Epub 2017 Jan 26.


Correct positioning of stem cells within their niche is essential for tissue morphogenesis and homeostasis. How stem cells acquire and maintain niche position remains largely unknown. Here, we show that a subset of brain neuroblasts (NBs) in Drosophila utilize Phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3-kinase) and DE-cadherin to build adhesive contact for NB niche positioning. NBs remain within their native microenvironment when levels of PI3-kinase activity and DE-cadherin are elevated in NBs. This occurs through PI3-kinase-dependent regulation of DE-Cadherin-mediated cell adhesion between NBs and neighboring cortex glia, and between NBs and their ganglion mother cell daughters. When levels of PI3-kinase activity and/or DE-Cadherin are reduced in NBs, NBs lose niche position and relocate to a non-native brain region that is rich in neurosecretory neurons, including those that secrete some of the Drosophila insulin-like peptides. Linking levels of PI3-kinase activity to the strength of adhesive attachment could provide cancer stem cells and hematopoietic stem cells with a means to cycle from trophic-poor to trophic-rich microenvironments.

Keywords: DE-Cadherin; Drosophila; Neuroblast; Niche; PI3-kinase; Shotgun; Stem cell.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / embryology*
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Mitosis
  • Morphogenesis
  • Neural Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism*


  • Cadherins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases