During development, transient stem cells play critical roles in the formation of specific tissues. Adult Muscle Precursors (AMPs) are at the origin of all adult Drosophila muscles and as we report here represent a novel population of muscle-committed transient stem cells. Similar to vertebrate muscle stem cells, AMPs keep Notch signaling active and express Enhancer of split m6 (E(spl)m6) gene, a read-out of Notch pathway. To get insights into AMP cell specification we performed a gain-of-function screen and found that the rhomboid-triggered Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) signaling pathway controls both the specification and the subsequent maintenance of AMPs. Our findings are supported by the identification of EGF-secreting cells in the lateral domain and the EGF-dependent regulatory modules that drive expression of the ladybird gene in lateral AMPs. Interestingly, by targeting GFP to the AMP cell membranes we also demonstrated that AMPs send long cellular processes and form a network of interconnected cells. As revealed by laser ablation experiments, the main role of AMP cell connections is to maintain their correct spatial positioning.
N. Figeac, Jagla, T., Dr. Rajaguru Aradhya, Da Ponte, J. Philippe, and Jagla, K., “Specification and behavior of AMPs, muscle-committed transient Drosophila stem cells”, Fly, vol. 5, pp. 7-9, 2011.