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Biol Cell. 1990;68(2):119-27.

Mitochondrial development during Drosophila oogenesis: distribution, density and in situ RNA hybridizations.

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Laboratoire de Biochimie Médicale, Faculté de Médecine, Université Clermont I, Clermont-Ferrand, France.


The changes in distribution and density of mitochondria and the level of mitochondrial RNA during Drosophila oogenesis were studied simultaneously in the 3 cell types ie follicle cells, nurse cells and oocyte, making up the egg chamber. Up to stage 6, mitochondrial density (mitochondrial and cellular areas ratio) was elevated and increased similarly in both follicle and nurse cells. Thereafter the mitochondrial density of follicle cells continued to increase and that of the nurse cells declined markedly while the nurse cell mitochondria assembled in dense groups and decreased in size. This can be related to a transfer of nurse cell cytoplasm, including mitochondria, to the oocyte. In the oocyte from stage 4 to stage 7 we observed a significant decrease of the mitochondrial density due to the absence of mitochondrial biogenesis. Then the cytoplasm transfer caused mitochondrial density to increase up to the level found in the nurse cells at the end of oogenesis. The mature oocyte contains enough mitochondria to supply 15,000 somatic cells. Our results strongly suggest that the variations in size, distribution and density of mitochondria relate to the particular energetic requirements of the different cell types during the first half of oogenesis. Later they relate to the developmental requirements of the nurse cells and the oocyte, in particular the storage of mitochondria in the oocyte. The level of mitochondrial RNA was studied through in situ hybridization. Throughout oogenesis the follicle and nurse cell RNA evolved similarly. Up to stage 9, there was no change in RNA densities in these cells, suggesting a correlation with the cell volume and/or the nuclear DNA content. Thereafter the cellular RNA concentration declined rapidly. In the oocyte the RNA concentration evolved differently especially from stage 10 to the end, the RNA density being stabilized. This can be related to the injection of nurse cell mitochondria, followed by their assignment to reserve status. Our results suggest that the mt RNA density is under extramitochondrial control mechanisms.

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