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Front Zool. 2012 Aug 6;9(1):15. doi: 10.1186/1742-9994-9-15.

Opposing effects of Notch-signaling in maintaining the proliferative state of follicle cells in the telotrophic ovary of the beetle Tribolium.

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Department Biology, Developmental Biology Unit, Erlangen, University, Staudstr, 5, Erlangen, 91058, Germany.



Establishment of distinct follicle cell fates at the early stages of Drosophila oogenesis is crucial for achieving proper morphology of individual egg chambers. In Drosophila oogenesis, Notch-signaling controls proliferation and differentiation of follicular cells, which eventually results in the polarization of the anterior-posterior axis of the oocyte. Here we analyzed the functions of Tribolium Notch-signaling factors during telotrophic oogenesis, which differs fundamentally from the polytrophic ovary of Drosophila.


We found Notch-signaling to be required for maintaining the mitotic cycle of somatic follicle cells. Upon Delta RNAi, follicle cells enter endocycle prematurely, which affects egg-chamber formation and patterning. Interestingly, our results indicate that Delta RNAi phenotypes are not solely due to the premature termination of cell proliferation. Therefore, we monitored the terminal/stalk cell precursor lineage by molecular markers. We observed that upon Delta RNAi terminal and stalk cell populations were absent, suggesting that Notch-signaling is also required for the specification of follicle cell populations, including terminal and stalk precursor cells.


We demonstrate that with respect to mitotic cycle/endocycle switch Notch-signaling in Tribolium and Drosophila has opposing effects. While in Drosophila a Delta-signal brings about the follicle cells to leave mitosis, Notch-signaling in Triboliumis necessary to retain telotrophic egg-chambers in an "immature" state. In most instances, Notch-signaling is involved in maintaining undifferentiated (or preventing specialized) cell fates. Hence, the role of Notch in Tribolium may reflectthe ancestral function of Notch-signaling in insect oogenesis.The functions of Notch-signaling in patterning the follicle cell epithelium suggest that Tribolium oogenesis may - analogous to Drosophila - involve the stepwise determination of different follicle cell populations. Moreover, our results imply that Notch-signaling may contribute at least to some aspects of oocyte polarization and AP axis also in telotrophic oogenesis.

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