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    Germ cell death occurs in many species [1-3] and has been proposed as a mechanism by which the fittest, strongest, or least damaged germ cells are selected for transmission to the next generation. However, little is known about how the choice is made between germ cell survival and death. Here, we focus on the mechanisms that regulate germ cell survival during embryonic development in Drosophila. We find that the decision to die is a germ cell-intrinsic process linked to quantitative differences in germ plasm inheritance, such that higher germ plasm inheritance correlates with higher primordial germ cell (PGC) survival probability. We demonstrate that the maternal factor lipid phosphate phosphatase Wunen-2 (Wun2) regulates PGC survival in a dose-dependent manner. Since wun2 mRNA levels correlate with the levels of other maternal determinants at the single-cell level, we propose that Wun2 is used as a readout of the overall germ plasm quantity, such that only PGCs with the highest germ plasm quantity survive. Furthermore, we demonstrate that Wun2 and p53, another regulator of PGC survival, have opposite yet independent effects on PGC survival. Since p53 regulates cell death upon DNA damage and various cellular stresses, we hypothesize that together they ensure selection of the PGCs with highest germ plasm quantity and least cellular damage. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


    Maija Slaidina, Ruth Lehmann. Quantitative Differences in a Single Maternal Factor Determine Survival Probabilities among Drosophila Germ Cells. Current biology : CB. 2017 Jan 23;27(2):291-297

    PMID: 28065608

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