The Drosophila ovary provides an accessible system for analysing the interactions between stem cells and their supporting niche. The Insulin-like receptor (InR) and Target of rapamycin (Tor) pathways affect germline stem cell activity in the adult fly, but their roles during ovary formation are poorly understood. On p. 4145, Dana Gancz and Lilach Gilboa investigate the consequences of manipulating InR and Tor signalling in germline and gonadal somatic tissues. They find that both pathways are required cell-autonomously in primordial germ cells (PGCs) to promote their proliferation, while disrupting either pathway in the soma affects both precursor cell proliferation and niche differentiation. InR activity in somatic cells also promotes PGC differentiation non-autonomously. Importantly, these experiments reveal that the PGC-to-cyst transition is a two-step process, only the first of which is insulin regulated. Together, these data demonstrate that InR and Tor act to coordinate development of ovarian stem cells and somatic cells, helping to ensure the formation of functional niche-stem cell units.
- © 2013. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd