The stem cell niches at the apex of Drosophila ovaries and testes have been viewed as distinct in two major respects. While both contain germline stem cells, the testis niche also contains "cyst progenitor" stem cells, which divide to produce somatic cells that encase developing germ cells. Moreover, while both niches utilize BMP signaling, the testis niche requires a key JAK/STAT signal. We now show, by lineage marking, that the ovarian niche also contains a second type of stem cell. These "escort stem cells" morphologically resemble testis cyst progenitor cells and their daughters encase developing cysts before undergoing apoptosis at the time of follicle formation. In addition, we show that JAK/STAT signaling also plays a critical role in ovarian niche function, and acts within escort cells. These observations reveal striking similarities in the stem cell niches of male and female gonads, and suggest that they are largely governed by common mechanisms.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology