Stable intercellular bridges called ring canals form following incomplete cytokinesis, and interconnect mitotically or meiotically related germ cells. We show that ring canals in Drosophila melanogaster males are surprisingly different from those previously described in females. Mature ring canal walls in males lack actin and appear to derive directly from structural proteins associated with the contractile ring. Ring canal assembly in males, as in females, initiates during cytokinesis with the appearance of a ring of phosphotyrosine epitopes at the site of the contractile ring. Following constriction, actin and myosin II disappear. However, at least four proteins present at the contractile ring remain: the three septins (Pnut, Sep1 and Sep2) and anillin. In sharp contrast, in ovarian ring canals, septins have not been detected, anillin is lost from mature ring canals and filamentous actin is a major component. In both males and females, a highly branched vesicular structure, termed the fusome, interconnects developing germ cells via the ring canals and is thought to coordinate mitotic germ cell divisions. We show that, in males, unlike females, the fusome persists and enlarges following cessation of the mitotic divisions, developing additional branches during meiosis. During differentiation, the fusome and its associated ring canals localize to the distal tip of the elongating spermatids.

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