Wolbachia, endosymbiotic bacteria prevalent in invertebrates, manipulate their hosts in a variety of ways: they induce cytoplasmic incompatibility, male lethality, male-to-female transformation, and parthenogenesis. However, little is known about the molecular basis for host manipulation by these bacteria. In Drosophila melanogaster, Wolbachia infection makes otherwise sterile Sex-lethal (Sxl) mutant females capable of producing mature eggs. Through a functional genomic screen for Wolbachia genes with growth-inhibitory effects when expressed in cultured Drosophila cells, we identified the gene WD1278 encoding a novel protein we call toxic manipulator of oogenesis (TomO), which phenocopies some of the Wolbachia effects in Sxl mutant D. melanogaster females. We demonstrate that TomO enhances the maintenance of germ stem cells (GSCs) by elevating Nanos (Nos) expression via its interaction with nos mRNA, ultimately leading to the restoration of germ cell production in Sxl mutant females that are otherwise without GSCs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)