Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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How ovary development is regulated in the fruit fly - insight into organ development from precursor cells and cancer

14 February 2022

A Niche Partnership

Adult stem cells are ever-ready to leap into action and repair tissues. Their activity is regulated by cells in their microenvironment – niche cells – that send them signals. A disturbance in niche or stem cell development can cause disease, including cancer. Researchers, therefore, seek to better understand the development of these two groups of cells using a fruit fly model, specifically looking at follicle stem cells and niche cells in developing fruit fly ovaries. Using fluorescence microscopy of developing ovaries (pictured), together with fruit flies genetically engineered to express fluorescent GFP in all derivatives of single precursor cells, they found that both the stem cells and niche cells develop from the same precursor cells (white in the picture). Moreover, the cells were able to mature into their distinct identities as they were physically separated out along the length of the developing ovary, exposing themselves to different signals as part of the complex process of development.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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