What genes are potentially involved in the organogenesis and/or maintenance of the Drosophila testis stem cell niche

Stem cells play a critical role in organ development, tissue regeneration and tissue homeostasis. Testis of the adult fruit fly, D. melanogaster, are among the most thoroughly characterized stem cell systems. The Drosophila testis stem cell niche is comprised of three cell types: sperm producing germline stem cells (GSCs), somatic cyst stem cells (CySCs) that nurture GSC maintenance and differentiation, and somatic hub cells to which GSCs and CySCs are docked. Asymmetric division of these two stem cell types produces a population of self-renewing stem cells that remains docked at the niche, as well as differentiated daughter cells that move away from the hub. While mechanisms regulating stem cell maintenance and differentiation in adult testes are well understood, much less is known about the process of germline stem cell niche development. To elucidate mechanisms controlling this process, we are conducting an RNAi screen to identify novel genes that take part testis stem cell niche formation. It is hoped that by assaying these genes with the primary and secondary screenings, valuable insight will be gained as to their role in stem cell differentiation and organogenesis. With knowledge gained from our helpful informative evolutionary relative, the common fruit fly, humans can gain a deeper understanding of our own genetic developmental processes.  Through the medical application of such scientific discovery, we can raise the quality of life for the far too many people who are suffering from potentially treatable trauma or developmental diseases.

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