Oogenesis in Drosophila takes place within germline cysts that support polarized transport through ring canals interconnecting their 15 nurse cells and single oocyte. Developing cystocytes are spanned by a large cytoplasmic structure known as the fusome that has been postulated to help form ring canals and determine the pattern of nurse cell-oocyte interconnections. We identified the adducin-like hts product and alpha-spectrin as molecular components of fusomes, discovered a related structure in germline stem cells and documented regular associations between fusomes and cystocyte centrosomes. hts mutations completely eliminated fusomes, causing abnormal cysts containing a reduced number of cells to form. Our results imply that Drosophila fusomes are required for ovarian cyst formation and suggest that membrane skeletal proteins regulate cystocyte divisions.

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