Germ Cell Lineage Homeostasis in Drosophila Requires the Vasa RNA Helicase

Genetics. 2019 Nov;213(3):911-922. doi: 10.1534/genetics.119.302558. Epub 2019 Sep 4.


The conserved RNA helicase Vasa is required for germ cell development in many organisms. In Drosophila melanogaster loss of PIWI-interacting RNA pathway components, including Vasa, causes Chk2-dependent oogenesis arrest. However, whether the arrest is due to Chk2 signaling at a specific stage and whether continuous Chk2 signaling is required for the arrest is unknown. Here, we show that absence of Vasa during the germarial stages causes Chk2-dependent oogenesis arrest. Additionally, we report the age-dependent decline of the ovariole number both in flies lacking Vasa expression only in the germarium and in loss-of-function vasa mutant flies. We show that Chk2 activation exclusively in the germarium is sufficient to interrupt oogenesis and to reduce ovariole number in aging flies. Once induced in the germarium, Chk2-mediated arrest of germ cell development cannot be overcome by restoration of Vasa or by downregulation of Chk2 in the arrested egg chambers. These findings, together with the identity of Vasa-associated proteins identified in this study, demonstrate an essential role of the helicase in the germ cell lineage maintenance and indicate a function of Vasa in germline stem cell homeostasis.

Keywords: Chk2; Vasa helicase; germline; oogenesis; piRNA pathway; vasa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Checkpoint Kinase 2 / genetics
  • Checkpoint Kinase 2 / metabolism
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases / genetics
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases / metabolism*
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Female
  • Homeostasis*
  • Loss of Function Mutation
  • Oogenesis*
  • Oogonia / cytology
  • Oogonia / metabolism


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Checkpoint Kinase 2
  • lok protein, Drosophila
  • vas protein, Drosophila
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases