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Genetics. 2003 Dec;165(4):1881-8.

Germline cell death is inhibited by P-element insertions disrupting the dcp-1/pita nested gene pair in Drosophila.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.


Germline cell death in Drosophila oogenesis is controlled by distinct signals. The death of nurse cells in late oogenesis is developmentally regulated, whereas the death of egg chambers during mid-oogenesis is induced by environmental stress or developmental abnormalities. P-element insertions in the caspase gene dcp-1 disrupt both dcp-1 and the outlying gene, pita, leading to lethality and defective nurse cell death in late oogenesis. By isolating single mutations in the two genes, we have found that the loss of both genes contributes to this ovary phenotype. Mutants of pita, which encodes a C2H2 zinc-finger protein, are homozygous lethal and show dumpless egg chambers and premature nurse cell death in germline clones. Early nurse cell death is not observed in the dcp-1/pita double mutants, suggesting that dcp-1+ activity is required for the mid-oogenesis cell death seen in pita mutants. dcp-1 mutants are viable and nurse cell death in late oogenesis occurs normally. However, starvation-induced germline cell death during mid-oogenesis is blocked, leading to a reduction and inappropriate nuclear localization of the active caspase Drice. These findings suggest that the combinatorial loss of pita and dcp-1 leads to the increased survival of abnormal egg chambers in mutants bearing the P-element alleles and that dcp-1 is essential for cell death during mid-oogenesis.

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