BACKGROUND: Bioelectric phenomena have been found to exert influence on various developmental and regenerative processes. Little is known about their possible functions and the cellular mechanisms by which they might act during Drosophila oogenesis. In developing follicles, characteristic extracellular current patterns and membrane-potential changes in oocyte and nurse cells have been observed that partly depend on the exchange of protons, potassium ions and sodium ions. These bioelectric properties have been supposed to be related to various processes during oogenesis, e. g. pH-regulation, osmoregulation, cell communication, cell migration, cell proliferation, cell death, vitellogenesis and follicle growth. Analysing in detail the spatial distribution and activity of the relevant ion-transport mechanisms is expected to elucidate the roles that bioelectric phenomena play during oogenesis.<br /><br />RESULTS: To obtain an overview of bioelectric patterning along the longitudinal and transversal axes of the developing follicle, the spatial distributions of membrane potentials (Vmem), intracellular pH (pHi) and various membrane-channel proteins were studied systematically using fluorescent indicators, fluorescent inhibitors and antisera. During mid-vitellogenic stages 9 to 10B, characteristic, stage-specific Vmem-patterns in the follicle-cell epithelium as well as anteroposterior pHi-gradients in follicle cells and nurse cells were observed. Corresponding distribution patterns of proton pumps (V-ATPases), voltage-dependent L-type Ca(2+)-channels, amiloride-sensitive Na(+)-channels and Na(+),H(+)-exchangers (NHE) and gap-junction proteins (innexin 3) were detected. In particular, six morphologically distinguishable follicle-cell types are characterized on the bioelectric level by differences concerning Vmem and pHi as well as specific compositions of ion channels and carriers. Striking similarities between Vmem-patterns and activity patterns of voltage-dependent Ca(2+)-channels were found, suggesting a mechanism for transducing bioelectric signals into cellular responses. Moreover, gradients of electrical potential and pH were observed within single cells.<br /><br />CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that spatial patterning of Vmem, pHi and specific membrane-channel proteins results in bioelectric signals that are supposed to play important roles during oogenesis, e. g. by influencing spatial coordinates, regulating migration processes or modifying the cytoskeletal organization. Characteristic stage-specific changes of bioelectric activity in specialized cell types are correlated with various developmental processes.
Krüger, J., & Bohrmann, J. (2015). Bioelectric patterning during oogenesis: Stage-specific distribution of membrane potentials, intracellular pH and ion-transport mechanisms in Drosophila ovarian follicles. BMC Developmental Biology, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12861-015-0051-3