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Schotthöfer, S.K., Bohrmann, J. (2020). Analysing bioelectrical phenomena in the Drosophila ovary with genetic tools: tissue-specific expression of sensors for membrane potential and intracellular pH, and RNAi-knockdown of mechanisms involved in ion exchange.  BMC Dev. Biol. 20(1): 15.
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Research paper

Changes in transcellular bioelectrical patterns are known to play important roles during developmental and regenerative processes. The Drosophila follicular epithelium has proven to be an appropriate model system for studying the mechanisms by which bioelectrical signals emerge and act. Fluorescent indicator dyes in combination with various inhibitors of ion-transport mechanisms have been used to investigate the generation of membrane potentials (Vmem) and intracellular pH (pHi). Both parameters as well as their anteroposterior and dorsoventral gradients were affected by the inhibitors which, in addition, led to alterations of microfilament and microtubule patterns equivalent to those observed during follicle-cell differentiation. We expressed two genetically-encoded fluorescent sensors for Vmem and pHi, ArcLight and pHluorin-Moesin, in the follicular epithelium of Drosophila. By means of the respective inhibitors, we obtained comparable effects on Vmem and/or pHi as previously described for Vmem- and pHi-sensitive fluorescent dyes. In a RNAi-knockdown screen, five genes of ion-transport mechanisms and gap-junction subunits were identified exerting influence on ovary development and/or oogenesis. Loss of ovaries or small ovaries were the results of soma knockdowns of the innexins inx1 and inx3, and of the DEG/ENaC family member ripped pocket (rpk). Germline knockdown of rpk also resulted in smaller ovaries. Soma knockdown of the V-ATPase-subunit vha55 caused size-reduced ovaries with degenerating follicles from stage 10A onward. In addition, soma knockdown of the open rectifier K+channel 1 (ork1) resulted in a characteristic round-egg phenotype with altered microfilament and microtubule organisation in the follicular epithelium. The genetic tool box of Drosophila provides means for a refined and extended analysis of bioelectrical phenomena. Tissue-specifically expressed Vmem- and pHi-sensors exhibit some practical advantages compared to fluorescent indicator dyes. Their use confirms that the ion-transport mechanisms targeted by inhibitors play important roles in the generation of bioelectrical signals. Moreover, modulation of bioelectrical signals via RNAi-knockdown of genes coding for ion-transport mechanisms and gap-junction subunits exerts influence on crucial processes during ovary development and results in cytoskeletal changes and altered follicle shape. Thus, further evidence amounts for bioelectrical regulation of developmental processes via the control of both signalling pathways and cytoskeletal organisation.

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PMC7341674 (PMC) (EuropePMC)
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    BMC Dev. Biol.
    BMC Developmental Biology
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