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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Dec 22;106(51):21701-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0909272106. Epub 2009 Dec 4.

Cyclin E-dependent protein kinase activity regulates niche retention of Drosophila ovarian follicle stem cells.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA.


Whether stem cells have unique cell cycle machineries and how they integrate with niche interactions remains largely unknown. We identified a hypomorphic cyclin E allele WX that strongly impairs the maintenance of follicle stem cells (FSCs) in the Drosophila ovary but does not reduce follicle cell proliferation or germline stem cell maintenance. CycE(WX) protein can still bind to the cyclin-dependent kinase catalytic subunit Cdk2, but forms complexes with reduced protein kinase activity measured in vitro. By creating additional CycE variants with different degrees of kinase dysfunction and expressing these and CycE(WX) at different levels, we found that higher CycE-Cdk2 kinase activity is required for FSC maintenance than to support follicle cell proliferation. Surprisingly, cycE(WX) FSCs were lost from their niches rather than arresting proliferation. Furthermore, FSC function was substantially restored by expressing either excess DE-cadherin or excess E2F1/DP, the transcription factor normally activated by CycE-Cdk2 phosphorylation of retinoblastoma proteins. These results suggest that FSC maintenance through niche adhesion is regulated by inputs that normally control S phase entry, possibly as a quality control mechanism to ensure adequate stem cell proliferation. We speculate that a positive connection between central regulators of the cell cycle and niche retention may be a common feature of highly proliferative stem cells.

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