Adult stem cells and niche cells segregate gradually from common precursors that build the adult Drosophila ovary during pupal development
Production of proliferative Follicle Cells (FCs) and quiescent Escort Cells (ECs) by Follicle Stem Cells (FSCs) in adult Drosophila ovaries is regulated by niche signals from anterior (Cap Cells, ECs) and posterior (polar FCs) sources. Here we show that ECs, FSCs and FCs develop from common pupal precursors, with different fates acquired by progressive separation of cells along the AP axis and a graded decline in anterior cell proliferation. ECs, FSCs and most FCs derive from Intermingled Cell (IC) precursors interspersed with germline cells. Precursors also accumulate posterior to ICs before engulfing a naked germline cyst projected out of the germarium to form the first egg chamber and posterior polar FC signaling center. Thus, stem and niche cells develop in appropriate numbers and spatial organization through regulated proliferative expansion together with progressive establishment of spatial signaling cues that guide adult cell behavior, rather than through rigid early specification events.