Antagonism between and Torso receptor regulates transcriptional quiescence underlying germline/soma distinction.
Transcriptional quiescence, an evolutionarily conserved trait, distinguishes the embryonic primordial germ cells (PGCs) from their somatic neighbors. In , PGCs from embryos maternally compromised for () misexpress somatic genes, possibly resulting in PGC loss. Recent studies documented a requirement for Gcl during proteolytic degradation of the terminal patterning determinant, Torso receptor. Here we demonstrate that the somatic determinant of female fate, (), is a biologically relevant transcriptional target of Gcl. Underscoring the significance of transcriptional silencing mediated by Gcl, ectopic expression of a degradation-resistant form of Torso () can activate transcription in PGCs, whereas simultaneous loss of () reinstates the quiescent status of PGCs. Intriguingly, like mutants, embryos derived from mothers expressing in the germline display aberrant spreading of pole plasm RNAs, suggesting that mutual antagonism between Gcl and Torso ensures the controlled release of germ-plasm underlying the germline/soma distinction.