Magu is required for germline stem cell self-renewal through BMP signaling in the Drosophila testis.
ABSTRACT: Understanding how stem cells are maintained in their microenvironment (the niche) is vital for their application in regenerative medicine. Studies of Drosophila male germline stem cells (GSCs) have served as a paradigm in niche-stem cell biology. It is known that the BMP and JAK-STAT pathways are necessary for the maintenance of GSCs in the testis (Kawase et al., 2004; Kiger et al., 2001; Schulz et al., 2004; Shivdasani and Ingham, 2003; Tulina and Matunis, 2001). However, our recent work strongly suggests that BMP signaling is the primary pathway leading to GSC self-renewal (Leatherman and DiNardo, 2010). Here we show that magu controls GSC maintenance by modulating the BMP pathway. We found that magu was specifically expressed from hub cells, and accumulated at the testis tip. Testes from magu mutants exhibited a reduced number of GSCs, yet maintained a normal population of somatic stem cells and hub cells. Additionally, BMP pathway activity was reduced, whereas JAK-STAT activation was retained in mutant testes. Finally, GSC loss caused by the magu mutation could be suppressed by overactivating the BMP pathway in the germline.
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:Germline stem cells (GSCs) in Drosophila are descendants of primordial germ cells (PGCs) specified during embryogenesis. The precise timing of GSC establishment in the testis has not been determined, nor is it known whether mechanisms that control GSC maintenance in the adult are involved in GSC establishment. Here, we determine that PGCs in the developing male gonad first become GSCs at the embryo to larval transition. This coincides with formation of the embryonic hub; the critical signaling center that regulates adult GSC behavior within the stem cell microenvironment (niche). We find that the Jak-STAT signaling pathway is activated in a subset of PGCs that associate with the newly-formed embryonic hub. These PGCs express GSC markers and function like GSCs, while PGCs that do not associate with the hub begin to differentiate. In the absence of Jak-STAT activation, PGCs adjacent to the hub fail to exhibit the characteristics of GSCs, while ectopic activation of the Jak-STAT pathway prevents differentiation. These findings show that stem cell formation is closely linked to development of the stem cell niche, and suggest that Jak-STAT signaling is required for initial establishment of the GSC population in developing testes.
Project description:In the Drosophila ovary, bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling activated by the niche promotes germline stem cell (GSC) self-renewal and proliferation, whereas E-cadherin-mediated cell adhesion anchors GSCs in the niche for their continuous self-renewal. Here we show that Lissencephaly-1 (Lis1) regulates BMP signaling and E-cadherin-mediated adhesion between GSCs and their niche and thereby controls GSC self-renewal. Lis1 mutant GSCs are lost faster than control GSCs because of differentiation but not because of cell death, indicating that Lis1 controls GSC self-renewal. The Lis1 mutant GSCs exhibit reduced BMP signaling activity, and Lis1 interacts genetically with the BMP pathway components in the regulation of GSC maintenance. Mechanistically, Lis1 binds directly to and stabilizes the SMAD protein Mothers against decapentaplegic (Mad), facilitates its phosphorylation, and thereby regulates BMP signaling. Finally, the Lis1 mutant GSCs accumulate less E-cadherin in the stem cell-niche junction than do their wild-type counterparts. Germline-specific expression of an activated BMP receptor thickveins (Tkv) or E-cadherin can partially rescue the loss phenotype of Lis1 mutant GSCs. Therefore, this study has revealed a role of Lis1 in the control of Drosophila ovarian GSC self-renewal, at least partly by regulating niche signal transduction and niche adhesion. It has been known that Lis1 controls neural precursor/stem cell proliferation in the developing mammalian brain; this study further suggests that Lis1, which is widely expressed in adult mammalian tissues, could regulate adult tissue stem cells through modulating niche signaling and adhesion.
Project description:Germline stem cells (GSCs) produce gametes throughout the reproductive life of many animals, and intensive studies have revealed critical roles of BMP signaling to maintain GSC self-renewal in Drospophila adult gonads. Here, we show that BMP signaling is downregulated as testes develop and this regulation controls testis growth, stem cell number, and the number of spermatogonia divisions. Phosphorylated Mad (pMad), the activated Drosophila Smad in germ cells, was restricted from anterior germ cells to GSCs and hub-proximal cells during early larval development. pMad levels in GSCs were then dramatically downregulated from early third larval instar (L3) to late L3, and maintained at low levels in pupal and adult GSCs. The spatial restriction and temporal down-regulation of pMad, reflecting the germ cell response to BMP signaling activity, required action in germ cells of E3 ligase activity of HECT domain protein Smurf. Analyses of Smurf mutant testes and dosage-dependent genetic interaction between Smurf and mad indicated that pMad downregulation was required for both the normal decrease in stem cell number during testis maturation in the pupal stage, and for normal limit of four rounds of spermatogonia cell division for control of germ cell numbers and testis size. Smurf protein was expressed at a constant low level in GSCs and spermatogonia during development. Rescue experiments showed that expression of exogenous Smurf protein in early germ cells promoted pMad downregulation in GSCs in a stage-dependent but concentration-independent manner, suggesting that the competence of Smurf to attenuate response to BMP signaling may be regulated during development. Taken together, our work reveals a critical role for differential attenuation of the response to BMP signaling in GSCs and early germ cells for control of germ cell number and gonad growth during development.
Project description:In the Drosophila ovary, bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) ligands maintain germline stem cells (GSCs) in an undifferentiated state. The activation of the BMP pathway within GSCs results in the transcriptional repression of the differentiation factor bag of marbles (bam). The Nanos-Pumilio translational repressor complex and the miRNA pathway also help to promote GSC self-renewal. How the activities of different transcriptional and translational regulators are coordinated to keep the GSC in an undifferentiated state remains uncertain. Data presented here show that Mei-P26 cell-autonomously regulates GSC maintenance in addition to its previously described role of promoting germline cyst development. Within undifferentiated germ cells, Mei-P26 associates with miRNA pathway components and represses the translation of a shared target mRNA, suggesting that Mei-P26 can enhance miRNA-mediated silencing in specific contexts. In addition, disruption of mei-P26 compromises BMP signaling, resulting in the inappropriate expression of bam in germ cells immediately adjacent to the cap cell niche. Loss of mei-P26 results in premature translation of the BMP antagonist Brat in germline stem cells. These data suggest that Mei-P26 has distinct functions in the ovary and participates in regulating the fates of both GSCs and their differentiating daughters.
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:Epigenetic regulation plays critical roles in the regulation of cell proliferation, fate determination, and survival. It has been shown to control self-renewal and lineage differentiation of embryonic stem cells. However, epigenetic regulation of adult stem cell function remains poorly defined. Drosophila ovarian germline stem cells (GSCs) are a productive adult stem cell system for revealing regulatory mechanisms controlling self-renewal and differentiation. In this study, we show that Eggless (Egg), a H3K9 methyltransferase in Drosophila, is required in GSCs for controlling self-renewal and in escort cells for regulating germ cell differentiation. egg mutant ovaries primarily exhibit germ cell differentiation defects in young females and gradually lose GSCs with time, indicating that Egg regulates both germ cell maintenance and differentiation. Marked mutant egg GSCs lack expression of trimethylated H3K9 (H3k9me3) and are rapidly lost from the niche, but their mutant progeny can still differentiate into 16-cell cysts, indicating that Egg is required intrinsically to control GSC self-renewal but not differentiation. Interestingly, BMP-mediated transcriptional repression of differentiation factor bam in marked egg mutant GSCs remains normal, indicating that Egg is dispensable for BMP signaling in GSCs. Normally, Bam and Bgcn interact with each other to promote GSC differentiation. Interestingly, marked double mutant egg bgcn GSCs are still lost, but their progeny are able to differentiate into 16-cell cysts though bgcn mutant GSCs normally do not differentiate, indicating that Egg intrinsically controls GSC self-renewal through repressing a Bam/Bgcn-independent pathway. Surprisingly, RNAi-mediated egg knockdown in escort cells leads to their gradual loss and a germ cell differentiation defect. The germ cell differentiation defect is at least in part attributed to an increase in BMP signaling in the germ cell differentiation niche. Therefore, this study has revealed the essential roles of histone H3K9 trimethylation in controlling stem cell maintenance and differentiation through distinct mechanisms.
Project description:Specialized microenvironments, or niches, provide signaling cues that regulate stem cell behavior. In the Drosophila testis, the JAK-STAT signaling pathway regulates germline stem cell (GSC) attachment to the apical hub and somatic cyst stem cell (CySC) identity. Here, we demonstrate that chickadee, the Drosophila gene that encodes profilin, is required cell autonomously to maintain GSCs, possibly facilitating localization or maintenance of E-cadherin to the GSC-hub cell interface. Germline specific overexpression of Adenomatous Polyposis Coli 2 (APC2) rescued GSC loss in chic hypomorphs, suggesting an additive role of APC2 and F-actin in maintaining the adherens junctions that anchor GSCs to the niche. In addition, loss of chic function in the soma resulted in failure of somatic cyst cells to maintain germ cell enclosure and overproliferation of transit-amplifying spermatogonia.
Project description:In the Drosophila ovarian germline, Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) signals released by niche cells promote germline stem cell (GSC) maintenance. Although BMP signaling is known to repress expression of a key differentiation factor, it remains unclear whether BMP-responsive transcription also contributes positively to GSC identity. Here, we identify the GSC transcriptome using RNA sequencing (RNA-seq), including the BMP-induced transcriptional network. Based on these data, we provide evidence that GSCs form two types of cellular projections. Genetic manipulation and live ex vivo imaging reveal that both classes of projection allow GSCs to access a reservoir of Dpp held away from the GSC-niche interface. Moreover, microtubule-rich projections, termed "cytocensors", form downstream of BMP and have additional functionality, which is to attenuate BMP signaling. In this way, cytocensors allow dynamic modulation of signal transduction to facilitate differentiation following GSC division. This ability of cytocensors to attenuate the signaling response expands the repertoire of functions associated with signaling projections.
Project description:Glioblastomas (GBMs) are highly lethal brain tumors with florid vascularization. GBMs display striking cellular hierarchies containing self-renewing tumorigenic glioma stem cells (GSCs). As GSCs often reside in perivascular niches within a GBM tumor, we interrogated GSC potential to generate vascular pericytes in vivo. We demonstrated that GSCs give rise to pericytes to support vessel structure and function and promote tumor growth (Cheng et al., Cell 2013). In vivo cell lineage tracing with constitutive and lineage specific fluorescent reporters indicated that GSCs generate the majority of vascular pericytes. Selective elimination of GSC-derived pericytes disrupted tumor vasculature and potently inhibited tumor growth. Furthermore, GSCs are recruited toward endothelial cells via the SDF-1/CXCR4 axis and induced to become pericytes predominantly by TGF-?. Thus, GSCs function as pericyte progenitors and contribute to vasculature formation in GBMs. The potent capacity of GSCs to generate vascular pericytes allows active vascularization to support GBM tumor growth. We extended this study and found that GSC-derived pericytes contribute to the resistance to the current anti-angiogenic therapy that targets endothelial cells, indicating that therapeutic targeting of GSC-derived pericytes may improve the anti-angiogenic therapy.