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Development. 1995 Feb;121(2):579-87.

The somatic sex determines the requirement for ovarian tumor gene activity in the proliferation of the Drosophila germline.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242, USA.


Gametogenesis in Drosophila requires sex-specific interactions between the soma and germline to control germ cell viability, proliferation, and differentiation. To determine what genetic components are involved in this interaction, we examined whether changes in the sexual identity of the soma affected the function of the ovarian tumor (otu) and ovo genes. These genes are required cell autonomously in the female germline for germ cell proliferation and differentiation. Mutations in otu and ovo cause a range of ovarian defects, including agametic ovaries and tumorous egg cysts, but do not affect spermatogenesis. We demonstrate that XY germ cells do not require otu when developing in testes, but become dependent on otu function for proliferation when placed in an ovary. This soma-induced requirement can be satisfied by the induced expression of the 98 x 10(3) M(r) OTU product, one of two isoforms produced by differential RNA splicing. These results indicate that the female somatic gonad can induce XY germ cells to become 'female-like' because they require an oogenesis-specific gene. In contrast, the requirement for ovo is dependent on a cell autonomous signal derived from the X:A ratio. We propose that differential regulation of the otu and ovo genes provides a mechanism for the female germline to incorporate both somatic and cell autonomous inputs required for oogenesis.

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