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Biology open

Neurl4 contributes to germ cell formation and integrity in Drosophila.


PMID 26116656

Abstract

Primordial germ cells (PGCs) form at the posterior pole of the Drosophila embryo, and then migrate to their final destination in the gonad where they will produce eggs or sperm. Studies of the different stages in this process, including assembly of germ plasm in the oocyte during oogenesis, specification of a subset of syncytial embryonic nuclei as PGCs, and migration, have been informed by genetic analyses. Mutants have defined steps in the process, and the identities of the affected genes have suggested biochemical mechanisms. Here we describe a novel PGC phenotype. When Neurl4 activity is reduced, newly formed PGCs frequently adopt irregular shapes and appear to bud off vesicles. PGC number is also reduced, an effect exacerbated by a separate role for Neurl4 in germ plasm formation during oogenesis. Like its mammalian homolog, Drosophila Neurl4 protein is concentrated in centrosomes and downregulates centrosomal protein CP110. Reducing CP110 activity suppresses the abnormal PGC morphology of Neurl4 mutants. These results extend prior analyses of Neurl4 in cultured cells, revealing a heightened requirement for Neurl4 in germ-line cells in Drosophila.