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Kawase, E., Wong, M.D., Ding, B.C., Xie, T. (2004). Gbb/Bmp signaling is essential for maintaining germline stem cells and for repressing bam transcription in the Drosophila testis.  Development 131(6): 1365--1375.
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Stem cells are responsible for replacing damaged or dying cells in various adult tissues throughout a lifetime. They possess great potential for future regenerative medicine and gene therapy. However, the mechanisms governing stem cell regulation are poorly understood. Germline stem cells (GSCs) in the Drosophila testis have been shown to reside in niches, and thus these represent an excellent system for studying relationships between niches and stem cells. Here we show that Bmp signals from somatic cells are essential for maintaining GSCs in the Drosophila testis. Somatic cyst cells and hub cells express two Bmp molecules, Gbb and Dpp. Our genetic analysis indicates that gbb functions cooperatively with dpp to maintain male GSCs, although gbb alone is essential for GSC maintenance. Furthermore, mutant clonal analysis shows that Bmp signals directly act on GSCs and control their maintenance. In GSCs defective in Bmp signaling, expression of bam is upregulated, whereas forced bam expression in GSCs causes the GSCs to be lost. This study demonstrates that Bmp signals from the somatic cells maintain GSCs, at least in part, by repressing bam expression in the Drosophila testis. dpp signaling is known to be essential for maintaining GSCs in the Drosophila ovary. This study further suggests that both Drosophila male and female GSCs use Bmp signals to maintain GSCs.

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