Infoscience

Journal article

Probing spermatogenesis in Drosophila with P-element enhancer detectors

Formation of motile sperm in Drosophila melanogaster requires the coordination of processes such as stem cell division, mitotic and meiotic control and structural reorganization of a cell. Proper execution of spermatogenesis entails the differentiation of cells derived from two distinct embryonic lineages, the germ line and the somatic mesoderm. Through an analysis of homozygous viable and fertile enhancer detector lines, we have identified molecular markers for the different cell types present in testes. Some lines label germ cells or somatic cyst cells in a stage-specific manner during their differentiation program. These expression patterns reveal transient identities for the cyst cells that had not been previously recognized by morphological criteria. A marker line labels early stages of male but not female germ cell differentiation and proves useful in the analysis of germ line sex-determination. Other lines label the hub of somatic cells around which germ line stem cells are anchored. By analyzing the fate of the somatic hub in an agametic background, we show that the germ line plays some role in directing its size and its position in the testis. We also describe how marker lines enable us to identify presumptive cells in the embryonic gonadal mesoderm before they give rise to morphologically distinct cell types. Finally, this collection of marker lines will allow the characterization of genes expressed either in the germ line or in the soma during spermatogenesis.

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