Large-scale movements of epithelial sheets are necessary for most embryonic and regenerative morphogenetic events. We have characterized the cellular processes associated with germ band retraction (GBR) in the Drosophila embryo. During GBR, the caudal end of the embryo retracts to its final posterior position. We show using time-lapse recordings that, in contrast to germ band extension, cells within the lateral germ band do not intercalate. In addition, the germ band and amnioserosa move as one coherent sheet, and the amnioserosa strongly shortens along its dorsal-ventral axis. Furthermore, during GBR, the amnioserosa adheres to and migrates over the caudal end of the germ band via lamellipodia. Expression of both dominant-negative and constitutively active RhoA in the amnioserosa disrupts GBR. As RhoA acts on both actomyosin contractility and cell-matrix adhesion, it suggests a role for such processes in the amnioserosa during GBR. The results establish the cellular movements and shape changes occurring during GBR and provide the basis for an analysis of the forces acting during GBR.
We demonstrate that Drosophila capulet (capt), a homolog of the adenylyl cyclase-associated protein that binds and regulates actin in yeast, associates with Abl in Drosophila cells, suggesting a functional relationship in vivo. We find a robust and specific genetic interaction between capt and Abl at the midline choice point where the growth cone repellent Slit functions to restrict axon crossing. Genetic interactions between capt and slit support a model where Capt and Abl collaborate as part of the repellent response. Further support for this model is provided by genetic interactions that both capt and Abl display with multiple members of the Roundabout receptor family. These studies identify Capulet as part of an emerging pathway linking guidance signals to regulation of cytoskeletal dynamics and suggest that the Abl pathway mediates signals downstream of multiple Roundabout receptors.
We have analyzed the mechanism of activation of the Epidermal growth factor receptor (Egfr) by the transforming growth factor (TGF) alpha-like molecule, Gurken (Grk). Grk is expressed in the oocyte and activates the Egfr in the surrounding follicle cells during oogenesis. We show that expression of either a membrane bound form of Grk (mbGrk), or a secreted form of Grk (secGrk), in either the follicle cells or in the germline, activates the Egfr. In tissue culture cells, both forms can bind to the Egfr; however, only the soluble form can trigger Egfr signaling, which is consistent with the observed cleavage of Grk in vivo. We find that the two transmembrane proteins Star and Brho potentiate the activity of mbGrk. These two proteins collaborate to promote an activating proteolytic cleavage and release of Grk. After cleavage, the extracellular domain of Grk is secreted from the oocyte to activate the Egfr in the follicular epithelium.
Members of the Hedgehog (Hh) family encode secreted molecules that act as potent organizers during vertebrate and invertebrate development. Post-translational modification regulates both the range and efficacy of Hh protein. One such modification is the acylation of the N-terminal cysteine of Hh. In a screen for zygotic lethal mutations associated with maternal effects, we have identified rasp, a novel Drosophila segment polarity gene. Analysis of the rasp mutant phenotype, in both the embryo and wing imaginal disc demonstrates that rasp does not disrupt Wnt/Wingless signaling but is specifically required for Hh signaling. The requirement of rasp is restricted only to those cells that produce Hh; hh transcription, protein levels and distribution are not affected by the loss of rasp. Molecular analysis reveals that rasp encodes a multipass transmembrane protein that has homology to a family of membrane bound O-acyl transferases. Our results suggest that Rasp-dependent acylation is necessary to generate a fully active Hh protein.
Innate immunity is essential for metazoans to fight microbial infections. Genome-wide expression profiling was used to analyze the outcome of impairing specific signaling pathways after microbial challenge. We found that these transcriptional patterns can be dissected into distinct groups. We demonstrate that, in addition to signaling through the Toll and Imd pathways, signaling through the JNK and JAK/STAT pathways controls distinct subsets of targets induced by microbial agents. Each pathway shows a specific temporal pattern of activation and targets different functional groups, suggesting that innate immune responses are modular and recruit distinct physiological programs. In particular, our results may imply a close link between the control of tissue repair and antimicrobial processes.
The Jun kinase (JNK) pathway has been characterized for its role in stimulating AP-1 activity and for modulating the balance between cell growth and death during development, inflammation, and cancer. Six families of mammalian kinases acting at the level of JNKKK have emerged as upstream regulators of JNK activity (MLK, LZK, TAK, ASK, MEKK, and TPL); however, the specificity underlying which kinase is utilized for transducing a distinct signal is poorly understood. In Drosophila, JNK signaling plays a central role in dorsal closure, controlling cell fate and cell sheet morphogenesis during embryogenesis. Notably, in the fly genome, there are single homologs of each of the mammalian JNKKK families. Here, we identify mutations in one of those, a mixed lineage kinase, named slipper (slpr), and show that it is required for JNK activation during dorsal closure. Furthermore, our results show that other putative JNKKKs cannot compensate for the loss of slpr function and, thus, may regulate other JNK or MAPK-dependent processes.
The Drosophila melanogaster JUN N-terminal kinase (DJNK) and DPP (decapentaplegic) signal transduction pathways coordinately regulate epithelial cell sheet movement during the process of dorsal closure in the embryo. By a genetic screen of mutations affecting dorsal closure in Drosophila, we have now identified a multidomain protein, connector of kinase to AP-1 (cka), that functions in the DJNK pathway and controls the localized expression of dpp in the leading-edge cells. We have also investigated how CKA acts. This unique molecule forms a complex with HEP (DJNKK), BSK (DJNK), DJUN, and DFOS. Complex formation activates BSK kinase, which in turn phosphorylates and activates DJUN and DFOS. These data suggest that CKA represents a novel molecule regulating AP-1 activity by organizing a molecular complex of kinases and transcription factors, thus coordinating the spatial-temporal expression of AP-1-regulated genes.
Malignant transformation frequently involves aberrant signaling from receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). These receptors commonly activate Ras/Raf/MEK/MAPK signaling but when overactivated can also induce the JAK/STAT pathway, originally identified as the signaling cascade downstream of cytokine receptors. Inappropriate activation of STAT has been found in many human cancers. However, the contribution of the JAK/STAT pathway in RTK signaling remains unclear. We have investigated the requirement of the JAK/STAT pathway for signaling by wild-type and mutant forms of the RTK Torso (Tor) using a genetic approach in Drosophila. Our results indicate that the JAK/STAT pathway plays little or no role in signaling by wild-type Tor. In contrast, we find that STAT, encoded by marelle (mrl; DStat92E), is essential for the gain-of-function mutant Tor (Tor(GOF)) to activate ectopic gene expression. Our findings indicate that the Ras/Raf/MEK/MAPK signaling pathway is sufficient to mediate the normal functions of wild-type RTK, whereas the effects of gain-of-function mutant RTK additionally require STAT activation.
The fruitless (fru) gene in Drosophila melanogaster is a multifunctional gene that has sex-specific functions in the regulation of male sexual behavior and sex-nonspecific functions affecting adult viability and external morphology. While much attention has focused on fru's sex-specific roles, less is known about its sex-nonspecific functions. We have examined fru's sex-nonspecific role in embryonic neural development. fru transcripts from sex-nonspecific promoters are expressed beginning at the earliest stages of neurogenesis, and Fru proteins are present in both neurons and glia. In embryos that lack most or all fru function, FasII- and BP102-positive axons have defasciculation defects and grow along abnormal pathways in the CNS. These defects in axonal projections in fru mutants were rescued by the expression of specific UAS-fru transgenes under the control of a pan-neuronal scabrous-GAL4 driver. Our results suggest that one of fru's sex-nonspecific roles is to regulate the pathfinding ability of axons in the embryonic CNS.
BACKGROUND: Membrane-associated guanylate kinases (MAGUKs), such as Discs-Large (DLG), play critical roles in synapse maturation by regulating the assembly of synaptic multiprotein complexes. Previous studies have revealed a genetic interaction between DLG and another PDZ scaffolding protein, SCRIBBLE (SCRIB), during the establishment of cell polarity in developing epithelia. A possible interaction between DLG and SCRIB at synaptic junctions has not yet been addressed. Likewise, the biochemical nature of this interaction remains elusive, raising questions regarding the mechanisms by which the actions of both proteins are coordinated. RESULTS: Here we report the isolation of a new DLG-interacting protein, GUK-holder, that interacts with the GUK domain of DLG and which is dynamically expressed during synaptic bouton budding. We also show that at Drosophila synapses DLG colocalizes with SCRIB and that this colocalization is likely to be mediated by direct interactions between GUKH and the PDZ2 domain of SCRIB. We show that DLG, GUKH, and SCRIB form a tripartite complex at synapses, in which DLG and GUKH are required for the proper synaptic localization of SCRIB. CONCLUSIONS: Our results provide a mechanism by which developmentally important PDZ-mediated complexes are associated at the synapse.
Photoreceptor and cone cells in the Drosophila eye are recruited following activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) pathway. We have identified echinoid (ed) as a novel putative cell adhesion molecule that negatively regulates EGFR signaling. The ed mutant phenotype is associated with extra photoreceptor and cone cells. Conversely, ectopic expression of ed in the eye leads to a reduction in the number of photoreceptor cells. ed expression is independent of EGFR signaling and ED is localized to the plasma membrane of every cells throughout the eye disc. We present evidence that ed acts nonautonomously to generate extra R7 cells by a mechanism that is sina-independent but upstream of Tramtrack (TTK88). Together, our results support a model whereby ED defines an independent pathway that antagonizes EGFR signaling by regulating the activity, but not the level, of the TTK88 transcriptional repressor.
During Drosophila oogenesis, the formation of the egg respiratory appendages and the micropyle require the shaping of anterior and dorsal follicle cells. Prior to their morphogenesis, cells of the presumptive appendages are determined by integrating dorsal-ventral and anterior-posterior positional information provided by the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and Decapentaplegic (Dpp) pathways, respectively. We show here that another signaling pathway, the Drosophila Jun-N-terminal kinase (JNK) cascade, is essential for the correct morphogenesis of the dorsal appendages and the micropyle during oogenesis. Mutant follicle cell clones of members of the JNK pathway, including DJNKK/hemipterous (hep), DJNK/basket (bsk), and Djun, block dorsal appendage formation and affect the micropyle shape and size, suggesting a late requirement for the JNK pathway in anterior chorion morphogenesis. In support of this view, hep does not affect early follicle cell patterning as indicated by the normal expression of kekkon (kek) and Broad-Complex (BR-C), two of the targets of the EGFR pathway in dorsal follicle cells. Furthermore, the expression of the TGF-beta homolog dpp, which is under the control of hep in embryos, is not coupled to JNK activity during oogenesis. We show that hep controls the expression of puckered (puc) in the follicular epithelium in a cell-autonomous manner. Since puc overexpression in the egg follicular epithelium mimics JNK appendages and micropyle phenotypes, it indicates a negative role of puc in their morphogenesis. The role of the JNK pathway in the morphogenesis of follicle cells and other epithelia during development is discussed.
Establishing cellular polarity is critical for tissue organization and function. Initially discovered in the landmark genetic screen for Drosophila developmental mutants, bazooka, crumbs, shotgun and stardust mutants exhibit severe disruption in apicobasal polarity in embryonic epithelia, resulting in multilayered epithelia, tissue disintegration, and defects in cuticle formation. Here we report that stardust encodes single PDZ domain MAGUK (membrane-associated guanylate kinase) proteins that are expressed in all primary embryonic epithelia from the onset of gastrulation. Stardust colocalizes with Crumbs at the apicolateral boundary, although their expression patterns in sensory organs differ. Stardust binds to the carboxy terminus of Crumbs in vitro, and Stardust and Crumbs are mutually dependent in their stability, localization and function in controlling the apicobasal polarity of epithelial cells. However, for the subset of ectodermal cells that delaminate and form neuroblasts, their polarity requires the function of Bazooka, but not of Stardust or Crumbs.
The precise regulation of growth factor signalling is crucial to the molecular control of development in Drosophila. Post-translational modification of signalling molecules is one of the mechanisms that modulate developmental signalling specificity. We describe a new gene, fringe connection (frc), that encodes a nucleotide-sugar transporter that transfers UDP-glucuronic acid, UDP-N-acetylglucosamine and possibly UDP-xylose from the cytoplasm into the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum/Golgi. Embryos with the frc mutation display defects in Wingless, Hedgehog and fibroblast growth factor signalling. Clonal analysis shows that fringe-dependent Notch signalling is disrupted in frc mutant tissue.
Recent studies in Drosophila have shown that heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) are required for Wingless (Wg/Wnt) signaling. In addition, genetic and phenotypic analyses have implicated the glypican gene dally in this process. Here, we report the identification of another Drosophila glypican gene, dally-like (dly) and show that it is also involved in Wg signaling. Inhibition of dly gene activity implicates a function for DLY in Wg reception and we show that overexpression of DLY leads to an accumulation of extracellular Wg. We propose that DLY plays a role in the extracellular distribution of Wg. Consistent with this model, a dramatic decrease of extracellular Wg was detected in clones of cells that are deficient in proper glycosaminoglycan biosynthesis. We conclude that HSPGs play an important role in organizing the extracellular distribution of Wg.
The leading edge (LE) is a single row of cells in the Drosophila embryonic epidermis that marks the boundary between two fields of cells: the amnioserosa and the dorsal ectoderm. LE cells play a crucial role in the morphogenetic process of dorsal closure and eventually form the dorsal midline of the embryo. Mutations that block LE differentiation result in a failure of dorsal closure and embryonic lethality. How LE cells are specified remains unclear. To explore whether LE cells are specified in response to early dorsoventral patterning information or whether they arise secondarily, we have altered the extent of amnioserosa and dorsal ectoderm genetically, and assayed LE cell fate. We did not observe an expansion of LE fate in dorsalized or ventralized mutants. Furthermore, we observed that the LE fate arises as a single row of cells, wherever amnioserosa tissue and dorsal epidermis are physically juxtaposed. Taken together our data indicate that LE formation is a secondary consequence of early zygotic dorsal patterning signals. In particular, proper LE specification requires the function of genes such as u-shaped and hindsight, which are direct transcriptional targets of the early Decapentaplegic/Screw patterning gradient, to establish a competency zone from which LE arises. We propose that subsequent inductive signaling between amnioserosa and dorsal ectoderm restricts the formation of LE to a single row of cells.
The actin cytoskeleton orders cellular space and transduces many of the forces required for morphogenesis. Here we combine genetics and cell biology to identify genes that control the polarized distribution of actin filaments within the Drosophila follicular epithelium. We find that profilin and cofilin regulate actin-filament formation throughout the cell cortex. In contrast, CAP-a Drosophila homologue of Adenylyl Cyclase Associated Proteins-functions specifically to limit actin-filament formation catalysed by Ena at apical cell junctions. The Abl tyrosine kinase also collaborates in this process. We therefore propose that CAP, Ena and Abl act in concert to modulate the subcellular distribution of actin filaments in Drosophila.
Loss of cell polarity and tissue architecture are characteristics of malignant cancers derived from epithelial tissues. We provide evidence from Drosophila that a group of membrane-associated proteins act in concert to regulate both epithelial structure and cell proliferation. Scribble (Scrib) is a cell junction-localized protein required for polarization of embryonic and, as demonstrated here, imaginal disc and follicular epithelia. We show that the tumor suppressors lethal giant larvae (lgl) and discs-large (dlg) have identical effects on all three epithelia, and that scrib also acts as a tumor suppressor. Scrib and Dlg colocalize and overlap with Lgl in epithelia; activity of all three genes is required for cortical localization of Lgl and junctional localization of Scrib and Dlg. scrib, dlg, and lgl show strong genetic interactions. Our data indicate that the three tumor suppressors act together in a common pathway to regulate cell polarity and growth control.
BACKGROUND: A polarised cytoskeleton is required to pattern cellular space, and for many aspects of cell behaviour. While the mechanisms ordering the actin cytoskeleton have been extensively studied in yeast, little is known about the analogous processes in other organisms. We have used Drosophila oogenesis as a model genetic system in which to investigate control of cytoskeletal organisation and cell polarity in multicellular eukaryotes. RESULTS: In a screen to identify genes required for Drosophila oocyte polarity, we isolated a Drosophila homologue of the yeast cyclase-associated protein, CAP. Here we show that CAP preferentially accumulates in the oocyte, where it inhibits actin polymerisation. CAP also has a role in oocyte polarity, as cap mutants fail to establish the proper, asymmetric distribution of mRNA determinants within the oocyte. Similarly in yeast, loss of CAP causes analogous polarity defects, altering the distribution of actin filaments and mRNA determinants. CONCLUSIONS: This study identifies CAP as a new effector of actin dynamics in Drosophila. As CAP controls the spatial distribution of actin filaments and mRNA determinants in both yeast and Drosophila, we conclude that CAP has an evolutionarily conserved function in the genesis of eukaryotic cell polarity.