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Opposing effects of Notch-signaling in maintaining the proliferative state of follicle cells in the telotrophic ovary of the beetle Tribolium

Daniel Bäumer, Nadi M Ströhlein and Michael Schoppmeier*

Author Affiliations

Department Biology, Developmental Biology Unit, Erlangen, University, Staudstr. 5, Erlangen, 91058, Germany

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Frontiers in Zoology 2012, 9:15  doi:10.1186/1742-9994-9-15

Published: 6 August 2012



Establishment of distinct follicle cell fates at the early stages of Drosophila oogenesis is crucial for achieving proper morphology of individual egg chambers. In Drosophila oogenesis, Notch-signaling controls proliferation and differentiation of follicular cells, which eventually results in the polarization of the anterior-posterior axis of the oocyte. Here we analyzed the functions of Tribolium Notch-signaling factors during telotrophic oogenesis, which differs fundamentally from the polytrophic ovary of Drosophila.


We found Notch-signaling to be required for maintaining the mitotic cycle of somatic follicle cells. Upon Delta RNAi, follicle cells enter endocycle prematurely, which affects egg-chamber formation and patterning. Interestingly, our results indicate that Delta RNAi phenotypes are not solely due to the premature termination of cell proliferation. Therefore, we monitored the terminal/stalk cell precursor lineage by molecular markers. We observed that upon Delta RNAi terminal and stalk cell populations were absent, suggesting that Notch-signaling is also required for the specification of follicle cell populations, including terminal and stalk precursor cells.


We demonstrate that with respect to mitotic cycle/endocycle switch Notch-signaling in Tribolium and Drosophila has opposing effects. While in Drosophila a Delta-signal brings about the follicle cells to leave mitosis, Notch-signaling in Triboliumis necessary to retain telotrophic egg-chambers in an “immature” state. In most instances, Notch-signaling is involved in maintaining undifferentiated (or preventing specialized) cell fates. Hence, the role of Notch in Tribolium may reflectthe ancestral function of Notch-signaling in insect oogenesis.

The functions of Notch-signaling in patterning the follicle cell epithelium suggest that Tribolium oogenesis may - analogous to Drosophila - involve the stepwise determination of different follicle cell populations. Moreover, our results imply that Notch-signaling may contribute at least to some aspects of oocyte polarization and AP axis also in telotrophic oogenesis.

Tribolium; Telotrophic oogenesis; Follicle cells; Axis formation; Notch-signaling