Wnt6 maintains anterior escort cells as an integral component of the germline stem cell niche.
- PMID: 29361569 [PubMed].
Stem cells reside in a niche, a complex cellular and molecular environment. In Drosophila ovaries, germline stem cells depend on cap cells for self-renewing signals and physical attachment. Germline stem cells also contact the anterior escort cells, and here we report that anterior escort cells are absolutely required for germline stem cell maintenance. When escort cells die from impaired Wnt signaling or hid expression, the loss of anterior escort cells causes consequent loss of germline stem cells. Anterior escort cells function as an integral niche component by promoting DE-cadherin anchorage and by transiently expressing the Dpp ligand to promote full-strength BMP signaling in germline stem cells. Anterior escort cells are maintained by Wnt6 ligands produced by cap cells; without Wnt6 signaling, anterior escort cells die leaving vacancies in the niche, leading to loss of germline stem cells. Our data identify anterior escort cells as constituents of the germline stem cell niche, maintained by a cap-cell produced Wnt6 survival signal.