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Genesis. 2011 Oct;49(10):753-75. doi: 10.1002/dvg.20784.

Somatic gonadal cells: the supporting cast for the germline.

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Department of Biology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.


Cell-cell signaling and adhesion are critical for establishing tissue architecture during development and for maintaining tissue architecture and function in the adult. Defects in adhesion and signaling can result in mislocalization of cells, uncontrolled proliferation and improper differentiation, leading to tissue overgrowth, tumor formation, and cancer metastasis. An important example is found in the germline. Germ cells that are not incorporated into the gonad exhibit a greater propensity for forming germ cell tumors, and defects in germline development can reduce fertility. While much attention is given to germ cells, their development into functional gametes depends upon somatic gonadal cells. The study of model organisms has provided great insights into how somatic gonadal cells are specified, the molecular mechanisms that regulate gonad morphogenesis, and the role of germline-soma communication in the establishment and maintenance of the germline stem cell niche. This work will be discussed in the context of Drosophila melanogaster.

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