Another notch in stem cell biology: Drosophila intestinal stem cells and the specification of cell fates



Previous work has suggested that many stem cells can be found in microanatomic niches, where adjacent somatic cells of the niche control the differentiation and proliferation states of their resident stem cells. Recently published work examining intestinal stem cells (ISCs) in the adult Drosophila midgut suggests a new paradigm where some stem cells actively control the cell fate decisions of their daughters. Here, we review recent literature(1) demonstrating that, in the absence of a detectable stem cell niche, multipotent Drosophila ISCs modulate the Notch signaling pathway in their adjacent daughter cells in order to specify the differentiated lineages of their descendants. These observations made in Drosophila are challenging and advancing our understanding of stem cell biology. BioEssays 30:107–109, 2008. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.