MiMIC analysis reveals an isoform specific role for Drosophila Musashi in follicle stem cell maintenance and escort cell function

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Cell Death Discovery


The Drosophila ovary is regenerated from germline and somatic stem cell populations that have provided fundamental conceptual understanding on how adult stem cells are regulated within their niches. Recent ovarian transcriptomic studies have failed to identify mRNAs that are specific to follicle stem cells (FSCs), suggesting that their fate may be regulated post-transcriptionally. We have identified that the RNA-binding protein, Musashi (Msi) is required for maintaining the stem cell state of FSCs. Loss of msi function results in stem cell loss, due to a change in differentiation state, indicated by upregulation of Lamin C in the stem cell population. In msi mutant ovaries, Lamin C upregulation was also observed in posterior escort cells that interact with newly formed germ cell cysts. Mutant somatic cells within this region were dysfunctional, as evidenced by the presence of germline cyst collisions, fused egg chambers and an increase in germ cell cyst apoptosis. The msi locus produces two classes of mRNAs (long and short). We show that FSC maintenance and escort cell function specifically requires the long transcripts, thus providing the first evidence of isoform-specific regulation in a population of Drosophila epithelial cells. We further demonstrate that although male germline stem cells have previously been shown to require Msi function to prevent differentiation this is not the case for female germline stem cells, indicating that these similar stem cell types have different requirements for Msi, in addition to the differential use of Msi isoforms between soma and germline. In summary, we show that different isoforms of the Msi RNA-binding protein are expressed in specific cell populations of the ovarian stem cell niche where Msi regulates stem cell differentiation, niche cell function and subsequent germ cell survival and differentiation.

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Australian Research Council



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