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Development. 1995 Nov;121(11):3797-807.

Identification and behavior of epithelial stem cells in the Drosophila ovary.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Laboratories, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Department of Embryology, Baltimore, MD 21210, USA.


Throughout their lives, adult Drosophila females continuously produce oocytes, each surrounded by an epithelial monolayer of follicle cells. To characterize the somatic stem cells that give rise to ovarian follicle cells, we marked dividing cells using FLP-catalyzed mitotic recombination and analyzed the resulting clones. Each ovariole in young females contains, on average, two somatic stem cells located near the border of germarium regions 2a and 2b. The somatic stem cells do not coordinate their divisions either with each other or with the germline stem cells. As females age, initially mosaic ovarioles become monoclonal, indicating that functional somatic stem cells have a finite life span. Analysis of agametic flies revealed that somatic cells continue to divide in the absence of a germline. Under these conditions, the somatic stem cells develop near the tip of the ovariole (the normal site of the germline stem cells), and a subpopulation of somatic cells that normally separates the germline and somatic stem cells is missing.

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