The Drosophila BCL6 homolog ken and barbie promotes somatic stem cell self-renewal in the testis niche

Melanie Issigonis, Erika Matunis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Stem cells sustain tissue regeneration by their remarkable ability to replenish the stem cell pool and to generate differentiating progeny. Signals from local microenvironments, or niches, control stem cell behavior. In the Drosophila testis, a group of somatic support cells called the hub creates a stem cell niche by locally activating the Janus Kinase-Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription (JAK-STAT) pathway in two adjacent types of stem cells: germline stem cells (GSCs) and somatic cyst stem cells (CySCs). Here, we find that ken and barbie (ken) is autonomously required for the self-renewal of CySCs but not GSCs. Furthermore, Ken misexpression in the CySC lineage induces the cell-autonomous self-renewal of somatic cells as well as the nonautonomous self-renewal of germ cells outside the niche. Thus, Ken, like Stat92E and its targets ZFH1 (Leatherman and Dinardo, 2008) and Chinmo (Flaherty et al., 2010), is necessary and sufficient for CySC renewal. However, ken is not a JAK-STAT target in the testis, but instead acts in parallel to Stat92E to ensure CySC self-renewal. Ken represses a subset of Stat92E targets in the embryo (Arbouzova et al., 2006) suggesting that Ken maintains CySCs by repressing differentiation factors. In support of this hypothesis, we find that the global JAK-STAT inhibitor Protein tyrosine phosphatase 61F (Ptp61F) is a JAK-STAT target in the testis that is repressed by Ken. Together, our work demonstrates that Ken has an important role in the inhibition of CySC differentiation. Studies of ken may inform our understanding of its vertebrate orthologue B-Cell Lymphoma 6 (BCL6) and how misregulation of this oncogene leads to human lymphomas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-192
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 15 2012


  • Drosophila
  • Ken and barbie
  • Niche
  • Stem cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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