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Development. 2007 Dec;134(23):4265-72.

Argonaute 1 regulates the fate of germline stem cells in Drosophila.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Biomembrane and Membrane Biotechnology, Institute of Zoology.


The Argonaute-family proteins play crucial roles in small-RNA-mediated gene regulation. In Drosophila, previous studies have demonstrated that Piwi, one member of the PIWI subfamily of Argonaute proteins, plays an essential role in regulating the fate of germline stem cells (GSCs). However, whether other Argonaute proteins also play similar roles remains elusive. Here, we show that overexpression of Argonaute 1 (AGO1) protein, another subfamily (AGO) of the Argonaute proteins, leads to GSC overproliferation, whereas loss of Ago1 results in the loss of GSCs. Combined with germline clonal analyses of Ago1, these findings strongly support the argument that Ago1 plays an essential and intrinsic role in the maintenance of GSCs. In contrast to previous observations of Piwi function in the maintenance of GSCs, we show that AGO1 is not required for bag of marbles (bam) silencing and probably acts downstream or parallel of bam in the regulation of GSC fate. Given that AGO1 serves as a key component of the miRNA pathway, we propose that an AGO1-dependent miRNA pathway probably plays an instructive role in repressing GSC/cystoblast differentiation.

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