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Multipotent somatic stem cells contribute to the stem cell niche in the Drosophila testis


Adult stem cells reside in specialized microenvironments, or niches, that have an important role in regulating stem cell behaviour1. Therefore, tight control of niche number, size and function is necessary to ensure the proper balance between stem cells and progenitor cells available for tissue homeostasis and wound repair. The stem cell niche in the Drosophila male gonad is located at the tip of the testis where germline and somatic stem cells surround the apical hub, a cluster of approximately 10–15 somatic cells that is required for stem cell self-renewal and maintenance2,3,4. Here we show that somatic stem cells in the Drosophila testis contribute to both the apical hub and the somatic cyst cell lineage. The Drosophila orthologue of epithelial cadherin (DE-cadherin) is required for somatic stem cell maintenance and, consequently, the apical hub. Furthermore, our data indicate that the transcriptional repressor escargot regulates the ability of somatic cells to assume and/or maintain hub cell identity. These data highlight the dynamic relationship between stem cells and the niche and provide insight into genetic programmes that regulate niche size and function to support normal tissue homeostasis and organ regeneration throughout life.

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Figure 1: Somatic stem cell progeny contribute to the hub.
Figure 2: BrdU-labelled cells become incorporated into the apical hub.
Figure 3: Two populations of mitotically active somatic cells are present near the hub.
Figure 4: Factors required for SSC maintenance and the SSC–hub cell transition.


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We thank E. Bach, D. Godt, S. Hayahsi, N. Perrimon and R. Read for reagents and fly stocks, and Jones laboratory members, G. Adams, M. Buszczak, C. Schulz, S. DiNardo and M. Fuller for discussions and comments on the manuscript. This work was supported by a training grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to the University of California-San Diego (L. Goldstein). D.L.J. is funded by the Ellison Medical Foundation, the American Federation for Aging Research, the G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Charitable Foundation, the ACS and the NIH.

Author Contributions J.V. and D.L.J. planned experiments; J.V. and C.D’A. performed experiments and analysed data; D.L.J. wrote the manuscript; and J.V. and C.D’A. edited the manuscript.

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Correspondence to D. Leanne Jones.

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Supplementary Information 1

The file contains Supplementary Figures 1-4 and Legends; Supplementary Tables 1-3. The Supplementary Figures include a model of SSC divisions, images of DE-cadherin mutant germline clones, and additional shg RNAi images. The Supplementary Tables include data from clonal analysis, phospho-histone H3, and BrdU experiments. (PDF 9563 kb)

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Voog, J., D’Alterio, C. & Jones, D. Multipotent somatic stem cells contribute to the stem cell niche in the Drosophila testis. Nature 454, 1132–1136 (2008).

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