Specialized microenvironments called niches regulate tissue homeostasis by controlling the balance between stem cell self-renewal and the differentiation of stem cell daughters. However the mechanisms that govern the formation, size and signaling of in vivo niches remain poorly understood. Loss of the highly conserved histone demethylase Lsd1 in Drosophila escort cells results in increased BMP signaling outside the cap cell niche and an expanded germline stem cell (GSC) phenotype. Here we present evidence that loss of Lsd1 also results in gradual changes in escort cell morphology and their eventual death. To better characterize the function of Lsd1 in different cell populations within the ovary, we performed Chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled with massive parallel sequencing (ChIP-seq). This analysis shows that Lsd1 associates with a surprisingly limited number of sites in escort cells and fewer, and often, different sites in cap cells. These findings indicate that Lsd1 exhibits highly selective binding that depends greatly on specific cellular contexts. Lsd1 does not directly target the dpp locus in escort cells. Instead, Lsd1 regulates engrailed expression and disruption of engrailed and its putative downstream target hedgehog suppress the Lsd1 mutant phenotype. Interestingly, over-expression of engrailed, but not hedgehog, results in an expansion of GSC cells, marked by the expansion of BMP signaling. Knockdown of other potential direct Lsd1 target genes, not obviously linked to BMP signaling, also partially suppresses the Lsd1 mutant phenotype. These results suggest that Lsd1 restricts the number of GSC-like cells by regulating a diverse group of genes and provide further evidence that escort cell function must be carefully controlled during development and adulthood to ensure proper germline differentiation.
Eliazer, S., Palacios, V., Wang, Z., Kollipara, R. K., Kittler, R., & Buszczak, M. (2014). Lsd1 Restricts the Number of Germline Stem Cells by Regulating Multiple Targets in Escort Cells. PLoS Genetics, 10(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1004200