It is known that signaling from the germline stem cell niche is required to maintain germline stem cell identity in Drosophila. However, it is not clear whether the germline stem-cell daughters differentiate by default (because they are physically distant from the niche) or whether additional signaling is necessary to initiate the differentiation program. Previously, we showed that ecdysteroid signaling cell nonautonomously regulates early germline differentiation via its somaspecific co-activator and co-repressor, Taiman and Abrupt. Now, we demonstrate that this regulation is modulated by the miRNA let-7, which acts in a positive feedback loop to confer ecdysone signaling robustness via targeting its repressor, the transcription factor Abrupt. This feedback loop adjusts ecdysteroid signaling in response to some stressful alterations in the external and internal conditions, which include temperature stress and aging, but not nutritional deprivation. Upon let-7 deficit, escort cells fail to properly differentiate: their shape, division, and cell adhesive characteristics are perturbed. These cells have confused cellular identity and form columnar-like rather than squamous epithelium and fail to send protrusions in between differentiating germline cysts, affecting soma-germline communication. Particularly, levels of the homophilic cell adhesion protein Cadherin, which recruits Wg signaling transducer b-catenin, are increased in mutant escort cells and, correspondingly, in the adjacent germline cells. Readjustment of heterotypic (soma-germline) cell adhesion modulates Wg signaling intensity in the germline, which in turn regulates histone modifications that promote expression of the genes necessary to trigger early germline differentiation. Thus, our data first show the intrinsic role for Wg signaling in the germline and support a model where the soma influences the tempo of germline differentiation in response to external conditions.
König, A., & Shcherbata, H. R. (2015). Soma influences GSC progeny differentiation via the cell adhesion-mediated steroid-let-7-Wingless signaling cascade that regulates chromatin dynamics. Biology Open, 4(3), 285–300. https://doi.org/10.1242/bio.201410553