Live imaging of the Drosophila spermatogonial stem cell niche reveals novel mechanisms regulating germline stem cell output.
ABSTRACT: Adult stem cells modulate their output by varying between symmetric and asymmetric divisions, but have rarely been observed in living intact tissues. Germline stem cells (GSCs) in the Drosophila testis are anchored to somatic hub cells and were thought to exclusively undergo oriented asymmetric divisions, producing one stem cell that remains hub-anchored and one daughter cell displaced out of the stem cell-maintaining micro-environment (niche). We developed extended live imaging of the Drosophila testis niche, allowing us to track individual germline cells. Surprisingly, new wild-type GSCs are generated in the niche during steady-state tissue maintenance by a previously undetected event we term 'symmetric renewal', where interconnected GSC-daughter cell pairs swivel such that both cells contact the hub. We also captured GSCs undergoing direct differentiation by detaching from the hub. Following starvation-induced GSC loss, GSC numbers are restored by symmetric renewals. Furthermore, upon more severe (genetically induced) GSC loss, both symmetric renewal and de-differentiation (where interconnected spermatogonia fragment into pairs while moving towards then establishing contact with the hub) occur simultaneously to replenish the GSC pool. Thus, stereotypically oriented stem cell divisions are not always correlated with an asymmetric outcome in cell fate, and changes in stem cell output are governed by altered signals in response to tissue requirements.
Project description:Stem cell division is tightly controlled via secreted signaling factors and cell adhesion molecules provided from local niche structures. Molecular mechanisms by which each niche component regulates stem cell behaviors remain to be elucidated. Here we show that heparan sulfate (HS), a class of glycosaminoglycan chains, regulates the number and asymmetric division of germline stem cells (GSCs) in the Drosophila testis. We found that GSC number is sensitive to the levels of 6-O sulfate groups on HS. Loss of 6-O sulfation also disrupted normal positioning of centrosomes, a process required for asymmetric division of GSCs. Blocking HS sulfation specifically in the niche, termed the hub, led to increased GSC numbers and mispositioning of centrosomes. The same treatment also perturbed the enrichment of Apc2, a component of the centrosome-anchoring machinery, at the hub-GSC interface. This perturbation of the centrosome-anchoring process ultimately led to an increase in the rate of spindle misorientation and symmetric GSC division. This study shows that specific HS modifications provide a novel regulatory mechanism for stem cell asymmetric division. The results also suggest that HS-mediated niche signaling acts upstream of GSC division orientation control.
Project description:The stem cell niche provides a supportive microenvironment to maintain adult stem cells in their undifferentiated state. Adhesion between adult stem cells and niche cells or the local basement membrane ensures retention of stem cells in the niche environment. Drosophila male germline stem cells (GSCs) attach to somatic hub cells, a component of their niche, through E-cadherin-mediated adherens junctions, and orient their centrosomes toward these localized junctional complexes to carry out asymmetric divisions. Here we show that the transmembrane receptor tyrosine phosphatase Leukocyte-antigen-related-like (Lar), which is best known for its function in axonal migration and synapse morphogenesis in the nervous system, helps maintain GSCs at the hub by promoting E-cadherin-based adhesion between hub cells and GSCs. Lar is expressed in GSCs and early spermatogonial cells and localizes to the hub-GSC interface. Loss of Lar function resulted in a reduced number of GSCs at the hub. Lar function was required cell-autonomously in germ cells for proper localization of Adenomatous polyposis coli 2 and E-cadherin at the hub-GSC interface and for the proper orientation of centrosomes in GSCs. Ultrastructural analysis revealed that in Lar mutants the adherens junctions between hub cells and GSCs lack the characteristic dense staining seen in wild-type controls. Thus, the Lar receptor tyrosine phosphatase appears to polarize and retain GSCs through maintenance of localized E-cadherin-based adherens junctions.
Project description:Malignant gliomas contain a population of self-renewing tumorigenic stem-like cells; however, it remains unclear how these glioma stem cells (GSCs) self-renew or generate cellular diversity at the single-cell level. Asymmetric cell division is a proposed mechanism to maintain cancer stem cells, yet the modes of cell division that GSCs utilize remain undetermined. Here, we used single-cell analyses to evaluate the cell division behavior of GSCs. Lineage-tracing analysis revealed that the majority of GSCs were generated through expansive symmetric cell division and not through asymmetric cell division. The majority of differentiated progeny was generated through symmetric pro-commitment divisions under expansion conditions and in the absence of growth factors, occurred mainly through asymmetric cell divisions. Mitotic pair analysis detected asymmetric CD133 segregation and not any other GSC marker in a fraction of mitoses, some of which were associated with Numb asymmetry. Under growth factor withdrawal conditions, the proportion of asymmetric CD133 divisions increased, congruent with the increase in asymmetric cell divisions observed in the lineage-tracing studies. Using single-cell-based observation, we provide definitive evidence that GSCs are capable of different modes of cell division and that the generation of cellular diversity occurs mainly through symmetric cell division, not through asymmetric cell division.
Project description:Establishment and maintenance of functional stem cells is critical for organ development and tissue homeostasis. Little is known about the mechanisms underlying stem establishment during organogenesis. Drosophila testes are among the most thoroughly characterized systems for studying stem cell behavior, with germline stem cells (GSCs) and somatic cyst stem cells (CySCs) cohabiting a discrete stem cell niche at the testis apex. GSCs and CySCs are arrayed around hub cells that also comprise the niche and communication between hub cells, GSCs, and CySCs regulates the balance between stem cell maintenance and differentiation. Recent data has shown that functional, asymmetrically dividing GSCs are first established at ?23 h after egg laying during Drosophila testis morphogenesis (Sheng et al., 2009). This process correlates with coalescence of the hub, but development of CySCs from somatic gonadal precursors (SGPs) was not examined. Here, we show that functional CySCs are present at the time of GSC establishment, and that Jak-STAT signaling is necessary and sufficient for CySC maintenance shortly thereafter. Furthermore, hyper-activation of Jak in CySCs promotes expansion of the GSC population, while ectopic Jak activation in the germline induces GSC gene expression in GSC daughter cells but does not prevent spermatogenic differentiation. Together, these observations indicate that, similar to adult testes, Jak-STAT signaling from the hub acts on both GSCs and CySC to regulate their development and differentiation, and that additional signaling from CySCs to the GSCs play a dominant role in controlling GSC maintenance during niche formation.
Project description:Many adult stem cells reside in a special microenvironment known as the niche, where they receive essential signals that specify stem cell identity. Cell-cell adhesion mediated by cadherin and integrin plays a crucial role in maintaining stem cells within the niche. In Drosophila melanogaster, male germline stem cells (GSCs) are attached to niche component cells (i.e., the hub) via adherens junctions. The GSC centrosomes and spindle are oriented toward the hub-GSC junction, where E-cadherin-based adherens junctions are highly concentrated. For this reason, adherens junctions are thought to provide a polarity cue for GSCs to enable proper orientation of centrosomes and spindles, a critical step toward asymmetric stem cell division. However, understanding the role of E-cadherin in GSC polarity has been challenging, since GSCs carrying E-cadherin mutations are not maintained in the niche. Here, we tested whether E-cadherin is required for GSC polarity by expressing a dominant-negative form of E-cadherin. We found that E-cadherin is indeed required for polarizing GSCs toward the hub cells, an effect that may be mediated by Apc2. We also demonstrated that E-cadherin is required for the GSC centrosome orientation checkpoint, which prevents mitosis when centrosomes are not correctly oriented. We propose that E-cadherin orchestrates multiple aspects of stem cell behavior, including polarization of stem cells toward the stem cell-niche interface and adhesion of stem cells to the niche supporting cells.
Project description:Stem cells can self-renew and generate differentiating daughter cells. It is not known whether these cells maintain their epigenetic information during asymmetric division. Using a dual-color method to differentially label "old" versus "new" histones in Drosophila male germline stem cells (GSCs), we show that preexisting canonical H3, but not variant H3.3, histones are selectively segregated to the GSC, whereas newly synthesized histones incorporated during DNA replication are enriched in the differentiating daughter cell. The asymmetric histone distribution occurs in GSCs but not in symmetrically dividing progenitor cells. Furthermore, if GSCs are genetically manipulated to divide symmetrically, this asymmetric mode is lost. This work suggests that stem cells retain preexisting canonical histones during asymmetric cell divisions, probably as a mechanism to maintain their unique molecular properties.
Project description:Asymmetrically dividing stem cells often show asymmetric behavior of the mother versus daughter centrosomes, whereby the self-renewing stem cell selectively inherits the mother or daughter centrosome. Although the asymmetric centrosome behavior is widely conserved, its biological significance remains largely unclear. Here, we show that Alms1a, a Drosophila homolog of the human ciliopathy gene Alstrom syndrome, is enriched on the mother centrosome in Drosophila male germline stem cells (GSCs). Depletion of alms1a in GSCs, but not in differentiating germ cells, results in rapid loss of centrosomes due to a failure in daughter centriole duplication, suggesting that Alms1a has a stem-cell-specific function in centrosome duplication. Alms1a interacts with Sak/Plk4, a critical regulator of centriole duplication, more strongly at the GSC mother centrosome, further supporting Alms1a's unique role in GSCs. Our results begin to reveal the unique regulation of stem cell centrosomes that may contribute to asymmetric stem cell divisions.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Drosophila female germline stem cells (GSCs) reside adjacent to a cellular niche that secretes Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) ligands and anchors the GSCs through adherens junctions. The GSCs divide asymmetrically such that one daughter remains in the niche as a GSC, while the other is born away from the niche and differentiates. However, given that the BMP signal can be diffusible, it remains unclear how a local extracellular asymmetry is sufficient to result in a robust pattern of asymmetric division.<h4>Methods and findings</h4>Here we show that GSCs are polarized with respect to the cellular niche. We first use a modified biosensor to demonstrate that the small GTPase Rac is asymmetrically activated within the GSC at the niche-GSC interface. Experiments using loss-of-function and gain-of-function mutations in Rac indicate that asymmetric Rac activity both localizes the microtubule binding protein Apc2 to orient one GSC centrosome at the niche-GSC interface during interphase and activates the Jun N-terminal kinase pathway to increase the ability of the GSC to respond to BMP ligands. Other processes act in concert with each function of Rac. Specifically, we demonstrate that the GSC cell cycle arrests at prometaphase if centrosomes are misoriented.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Thus, the GSCs, an adult stem cell present in a cellular niche, have a niche-associated polarity that couples control of the division plane with increased response to an extracellular maintenance signal. Other processes work in parallel with the Rac-mediated polarity to ensure a robust pattern of asymmetric division. We suggest that all adult stem cells likely employ multiple, independently acting mechanisms to ensure asymmetric division to maintain tissue homeostasis.
Project description:Many stem cells, including Drosophila germline stem cells (GSCs), divide asymmetrically, producing one stem cell and one differentiating daughter. Cytokinesis is often asymmetric, in that only one daughter cell inherits the midbody ring (MR) upon completion of abscission even in apparently symmetrically dividing cells. However, whether the asymmetry in cytokinesis correlates with cell fate or has functional relevance has been poorly explored. Here we show that the MR is asymmetrically segregated during GSC divisions in a centrosome age-dependent manner: male GSCs, which inherit the mother centrosome, exclude the MR, whereas female GSCs, which we here show inherit the daughter centrosome, inherit the MR. We further show that stem cell identity correlates with the mode of MR inheritance. Together our data suggest that the MR does not inherently dictate stem cell identity, although its stereotypical inheritance is under the control of stemness and potentially provides a platform for asymmetric segregation of certain factors.
Project description:Stem cells divide asymmetrically to generate a stem cell and a differentiating daughter cell. Yet, it remains poorly understood how a stem cell and a differentiating daughter cell can receive distinct levels of niche signal and thus acquire different cell fates (self-renewal versus differentiation), despite being adjacent to each other and thus seemingly exposed to similar levels of niche signaling. In the <i>Drosophila</i> ovary, germline stem cells (GSCs) are maintained by short range bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling; the BMP ligands activate a receptor that phosphorylates the downstream molecule mothers against decapentaplegic (Mad). Phosphorylated Mad (pMad) accumulates in the GSC nucleus and activates the stem cell transcription program. Here, we demonstrate that pMad is highly concentrated in the nucleus of the GSC, while it quickly decreases in the nucleus of the differentiating daughter cell, the precystoblast (preCB), before the completion of cytokinesis. We show that a known Mad phosphatase, Dullard (Dd), is required for the asymmetric partitioning of pMad. Our mathematical modeling recapitulates the high sensitivity of the ratio of pMad levels to the Mad phosphatase activity and explains how the asymmetry arises in a shared cytoplasm. Together, these studies reveal a mechanism for breaking the symmetry of daughter cells during asymmetric stem cell division.