Drosophila oocyte localization is mediated by differential cadherin-based adhesion

Nature. 1998 Sep 24;395(6700):387-91. doi: 10.1038/26493.


In a Drosophila follicle the oocyte always occupies a posterior position among a group of sixteen germline cells. Although the importance of this cell arrangement for the subsequent formation of the anterior-posterior axis of the embryo is well documented, the molecular mechanism responsible for the posterior localization of the oocyte was unknown. Here we show that the homophilic adhesion molecule DE-cadherin mediates oocyte positioning. During follicle biogenesis, DE-cadherin is expressed in germline (including oocyte) and surrounding follicle cells, with the highest concentration of DE-cadherin being found at the interface between oocyte and posterior follicle cells. Mosaic analysis shows that DE-cadherin is required in both germline and follicle cells for correct oocyte localization, indicating that germline-soma interactions may be involved in this process. By analysing the behaviour of the oocyte in follicles with a chimaeric follicular epithelium, we find that the position of the oocyte is determined by the position of DE-cadherin-expressing follicle cells, to which the oocyte attaches itself selectively. Among the DE-cadherin positive follicle cells, the oocyte preferentially contacts those cells that express higher levels of DE-cadherin. On the basis of these data, we propose that in wild-type follicles the oocyte competes successfully with its sister germline cells for contact to the posterior follicle cells, a sorting process driven by different concentrations of DE-cadherin. This is, to our knowledge, the first in vivo example of a cell-sorting process that depends on differential adhesion mediated by a cadherin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Cadherins / physiology*
  • Cell Polarity
  • Chimera
  • Drosophila / embryology
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Female
  • Mutation
  • Oocytes / cytology*
  • Oogenesis / physiology*
  • Ovarian Follicle / cytology
  • Ovarian Follicle / embryology


  • Cadherins