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The identification of new mediators of soma-germline interactions in the Drosophila melanogaster testis Islam, Fayeza


Animal gonads contain two types of cells, the soma and the germline. Interactions between these two tissues regulate cell proliferation, differentiation, patterning, and homeostasis in the gonad during development and throughout the life of the organism. In particular, interactions between the soma and germline in the gonads regulate the behavior of germline stem cells (GSCs). Disruption of germline-soma interactions has severe consequences for gametogenesis and especially on GSC function, resulting in sterility, formation of somatic and germline tumors, and defective sexual determination of the germline. The Drosophila melanogaster gonads provide a powerful, established, model system to study how soma-germline interactions regulate GSC function as well as spermatogenesis. Soma-germline interactions are initiated at the stem cell niche where both germline and somatic stem cells are housed. Upon exit from the stem cell niche, the soma encapsulates the germline. The association and communication between the soma and germline ensures proper differentiation of the germline into mature sperm. Signaling events between the germline and soma regulate germline stem cell self-renewal, displacement from the niche, and encystment of germ cells. The cell biological mechanisms that set up the milieu in which these signaling events take place are poorly understood. In order to better understand the regulation of soma-germline interactions, we are performing a genetic screen using tissue-specific RNAi and fertility assays to identify genes involved in this process. We have identified over 200 genes necessary in the soma for spermatogenesis. Here I describe the characterization and classification of genes identified in the screen, as well as initial attempts to understand their role in the fly testis. The identification and characterization of the novel genes that mediate soma-germline interactions will provide crucial insight into the basic mechanisms that regulate spermatogenesis.

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