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Curr Biol. 2007 Mar 20;17(6):539-44. Epub 2007 Feb 15.

Dcr-1 maintains Drosophila ovarian stem cells.

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Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, Missouri 64110, USA.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate gene expression by controlling the turnover, translation, or both of specific mRNAs. In Drosophila, Dicer-1 (Dcr-1) is essential for generating mature miRNAs from their corresponding precursors. Because miRNAs are known to modulate developmental events, such as cell fate determination and maintenance in many species, we investigated whether a lack of Dcr-1 would affect the maintenance of stem cells (germline stem cells, GSCs; somatic stem cells, SSCs) in the Drosophila ovary by specifically removing its function from the stem cells. Our results show that dcr-1 mutant GSCs cannot be maintained and are lost rapidly from the niche without discernable features of cell death, indicating that Dcr-1 controls GSC self-renewal but not survival. bag of marbles (bam), the gene that encodes an important differentiating factor in the Drosophila germline, however, is not upregulated in dcr-1 mutant GSCs, and its removal does not slow down dcr-1 mutant GSC loss, suggesting that Dcr-1 controls GSC self-renewal by repressing a Bam-independent differentiation pathway. Furthermore, Dcr-1 is also essential for the maintenance of SSCs in the Drosophila ovary. Our data suggest that miRNAs produced by Dcr-1 are required for maintaining two types of stem cells in the Drosophila ovary.

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