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The Drosophila gonads: models for stem cell proliferation, self-renewal, and differentiation

Department of Genetics, La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC 3086, Australia

Special Issues: Drosophila models of tumourigenesis

The male and female gonads of Drosophila melanogaster have developed into powerful model systems for both the study of stem cell behaviours, and for understanding how stem cell misregulation can lead to cancers. Using these systems, one is able to observe and manipulate the resident stem cell populations in vivo with a great deal of licence. The tractability of the testis and ovary also allow researchers to explore a range of cellular mechanisms, such as proliferation and polarity, as well as the influence exerted by the local environment through a host of highly-conserved signalling pathways. Importantly, many of the cellular behaviours and processes studied in the Drosophila testis and ovary are known to be disrupted, or otherwise misregulated, in human tumourigenic cells. Here, we review the mechanisms relating to stem cell behaviour, though we acknowledge there are many other fascinating aspects of gametogenesis, including the invasive behaviour of migratory border cells in the Drosophila ovary that, though relevant to the study of tumourigenesis, will unfortunately not be covered.
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