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Nature. 2006 Sep 7;443(7107):97-100. Epub 2006 Aug 27.

Soma-germline interactions coordinate homeostasis and growth in the Drosophila gonad.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Developmental Genetics Program, The Skirball Institute and Department of Cell Biology, New York University School of Medicine, 540 First Avenue, New York, New York 10016, USA.


The ability of organs such as the liver or the lymphoid system to maintain their original size or regain it after injury is well documented. However, little is known about how these organs sense that equilibrium is breached, and how they cease changing when homeostasis is reached. Similarly, it remains unclear how, during normal development, different cell types within an organ coordinate their growth. Here we show that during gonad development in the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster the proliferation of primordial germ cells (PGCs) and survival of the somatic intermingled cells (ICs) that contact them are coordinated by means of a feedback mechanism composed of a positive signal and a negative signal. PGCs express the EGF receptor (EGFR) ligand Spitz, which is required for IC survival. In turn, ICs inhibit PGC proliferation. Thus, homeostasis and coordination of growth between soma and germ line in the larval ovary is achieved by using a sensor of PGC numbers (EGFR-mediated survival of ICs) coupled to a correction mechanism inhibiting PGC proliferation. This feedback loop ensures that sufficient numbers of PGCs exist to fill all the stem-cell niches that form at the end of larval development. We propose that similar feedback mechanisms might be generally used for coordinated growth, regeneration and homeostasis.

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