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Ma, X., Han, Y., Song, X., Do, T., Yang, Z., Ni, J., Xie, T. (2016). DNA damage-induced Lok/CHK2 activation compromises germline stem cell self-renewal and lineage differentiation.  Development 143(23): 4312--4323.
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Stem cells in adult tissues are constantly exposed to genotoxic stress and also accumulate DNA damage with age. However, it remains largely unknown how DNA damage affects both stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. In this study, we show that DNA damage retards germline stem cell (GSC) self-renewal and progeny differentiation in a Lok kinase-dependent manner in the Drosophila ovary. Both heatshock-inducible endonuclease I-CreI expression and X-ray irradiation can efficiently introduce double-strand breaks in GSCs and their progeny, resulting in a rapid GSC loss and a GSC progeny differentiation defect. Surprisingly, the elimination of Lok or its kinase activity can almost fully rescue the GSC loss and the progeny differentiation defect caused by DNA damage induced by I-CreI or X-ray. In addition, the reduction in bone morphogenetic protein signaling and Shotgun expression only makes a limited contribution to DNA damage-induced GSC loss. Finally, DNA damage also decreases the expression of the master differentiation factor Bam in a Lok-dependent manner, which helps explain the GSC progeny differentiation defect. Therefore, this study demonstrates, for the first time in vivo, that Lok kinase activation is required for the DNA damage-mediated disruption of adult stem cell self-renewal and lineage differentiation, and might also offer novel insight into how DNA damage causes tissue aging and cancer formation.

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