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Figure from Brand paper about Perlecan in stem cell niche

A collaboration between the Brand lab and former St. Johnston lab member, Acaimo Gonzalez Reyes, has identified a novel function for the evolutionarily conserved extracellular matrix component, Perlecan, in maintaining germline stem cell populations


Stem cell niche organization in the Drosophila ovary requires the ECM component Perlecan

Díaz-Torres A et al. (2021) Current Biology 31 (8) P1744-1753.E5. 

DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.01.071.


Stem cells reside in specialised microenvironments or niches that balance stem cell proliferation and differentiation. The extracellular matrix (ECM) is an essential component of most niches because it controls niche homeostasis, provides physical support, and conveys extracellular signals.

Perlecans are secreted proteoglycans that interact with ECM proteins, ligands, receptors, and growth factors (FGF, PDGF, VEGF, Hedgehog, and Wingless). Thus, Perlecans have both structural and signalling functions through the binding, storage, or sequestering of specific ligands.

Díaz-Torres et al. report that niche architecture in the developing Drosophila ovary requires Perlecan, that niche cells secrete an isoform-specific Perlecan-rich interstitial matrix, and that DE-cadherin-dependent stem cell-niche adhesion requires Perlecan. The authors demonstrate a structural role for Perlecan in germline niche establishment and in the maintenance of stem cells in the adult niche.



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