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Metabolism participates in the control of stem cell function and subsequent maintenance of tissue homeostasis. How this is achieved in the context of adult stem cell niches in coordination with other local and intrinsic signaling cues is not completely understood. The Target of Rapamycin (TOR) pathway is a master regulator of metabolism and plays essential roles in stem cell maintenance and differentiation. We observe differential expression of the Tor kinase in the Drosophila male germline, which correlates with restriction of mTORC1 activity to germline stem cells (GSCs) and early germ cells. Targeted RNAi-mediated downregulation of Tor in early germ cells causes a block and/or a delay in differentiation, resulting in an accumulation of germ cells with GSC-like features. These early germ cells also contain unusually large and dysfunctional autolysosomes. In addition, downregulation of Tor in adult male GSCs and early germ cells causes non-autonomous activation of mTORC1 in neighboring cyst cells, which correlates with a disruption in the coordination of germline and somatic differentiation. Our study identifies a previously uncharacterized role of the TOR pathway in regulating male germline differentiation.
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One signal to differentiate them both and in timed development bind them: Tor is required for germ cell differentiation and its coordination with supporting somatic cells in the Drosophila testis