Raf is an essential downstream effector of activated p21(Ras) (Ras) in transducing proliferation or differentiation signals. Following binding to Ras, Raf is translocated to the plasma membrane, where it is activated by a yet unidentified "Raf activator." In an attempt to identify the Raf activator or additional molecules involved in the Raf signaling pathway, we conducted a genetic screen to identify genomic regions that are required for the biological function of Drosophila Raf (Draf). We tested a collection of chromosomal deficiencies representing approximately 70% of the autosomal euchromatic genomic regions for their abilities to enhance the lethality associated with a hypomorphic viable allele of Draf, Draf(Su2). Of the 148 autosomal deficiencies tested, 23 behaved as dominant enhancers of Draf(Su2), causing lethality in Draf(Su2) hemizygous males. Four of these deficiencies identified genes known to be involved in the Drosophila Ras/Raf (Ras1/Draf) pathway: Ras1, rolled (rl, encoding a MAPK), 14-3-3epsilon, and bowel (bowl). Two additional deficiencies removed the Drosophila Tec and Src homologs, Tec29A and Src64B. We demonstrate that Src64B interacts genetically with Draf and that an activated form of Src64B, when overexpressed in early embryos, causes ectopic expression of the Torso (Tor) receptor tyrosine kinase-target gene tailless. In addition, we show that a mutation in Tec29A partially suppresses a gain-of-function mutation in tor. These results suggest that Tec29A and Src64B are involved in Tor signaling, raising the possibility that they function to activate Draf. Finally, we discovered a genetic interaction between Draf(Su2) and Df(3L)vin5 that revealed a novel role of Draf in limb development. We find that loss of Draf activity causes limb defects, including pattern duplications, consistent with a role for Draf in regulation of engrailed (en) expression in imaginal discs.
The Drosophila wingless gene (wg) encodes a protein of the Wnt family and is a critical regulator in many developmental processes. Biochemical studies have indicated that heparan sulphate proteoglycans, consisting of a protein core to which heparan sulphate glycosaminoglycans are attached, are important for Wg function. Here we show that, consistent with these findings, the Drosophila gene sulfateless (sfl), which encodes a homologue of vertebrate heparan sulphate N-deacetylase/N-sulphotransferase (an enzyme needed for the modification of heparan sulphate) is essential for Wg signalling. We have identified the product of division abnormally delayed (dally), a glycosyl-phosphatidyl inositol (GPI)-linked glypican, as a heparan sulphate proteoglycan molecule involved in Wg signalling. Our results indicate that Dally may act as a co-receptor for Wg, and that Dally, together with Drosophila Frizzled 2, modulates both short- and long-range activities of Wg.
BACKGROUND: The Drosophila eye is composed of about 800 ommatidia, each of which becomes dorsoventrally polarised in a process requiring signalling through the Notch, JAK/STAT and Wingless pathways. These three pathways are thought to act by setting up a gradient of a signalling molecule (or molecules) often referred to as the 'second signal'. Thus far, no candidate for a second signal has been identified. RESULTS: The four-jointed locus encodes a type II transmembrane protein that is expressed in a dorsoventral gradient in the developing eye disc. We have analysed the function and regulation of four-jointed during eye patterning. Loss-of-function clones or ectopic expression of four-jointed resulted in strong non-autonomous defects in ommatidial polarity on the dorsoventral axis. Ectopic expression experiments indicated that localised four-jointed expression was required at the time during development when ommatidial polarity was being determined. In contrast, complete removal of four-jointed function resulted in only a mild ommatidial polarity defect. Finally, we found that four-jointed expression was regulated by the Notch, JAK/STAT and Wingless pathways, consistent with it mediating their effects on ommatidial polarity. CONCLUSIONS: The clonal phenotypes, time of requirement and regulation of four-jointed are consistent with it acting in ommatidial polarity determination as a second signal downstream of Notch, JAK/STAT and Wingless. Interestingly, it appears to act redundantly with unknown factors in this process, providing an explanation for the previous failure to identify a second signal.
Hedgehog (Hh) molecules play critical roles during development as a morphogen, and therefore their distribution must be regulated. Hh proteins undergo several modifications that tether them to the membrane. We have previously identified tout velu (ttv), a homolog of the mammalian EXT tumor suppressor gene family, as a gene required for movement of Hh. In this paper, we present in vivo evidence that ttv is involved in heparan sulfate proteoglycan (HSPG) biosynthesis, suggesting that HSPGs control Hh distribution. In contrast to mutants in other HSPG biosynthesis genes, the activity of the HSPG-dependent FGF and Wingless signaling pathways are not affected in ttv mutants. This demonstrates an unexpected level of specificity in the regulation of the distribution of extracellular signals by HSPGs.
The Drosophila sugarless and sulfateless genes encode enzymes required for the biosynthesis of heparan sulfate glycosaminoglycans. Biochemical studies have shown that heparan sulfate glycosaminoglycans are involved in signaling by fibroblast growth factor receptors, but evidence for such a requirement in an intact organism has not been available. We now demonstrate that sugarless and sulfateless mutant embryos have phenotypes similar to those lacking the functions of two Drosophila fibroblast growth factor receptors, Heartless and Breathless. Moreover, both Heartless- and Breathless-dependent MAPK activation is significantly reduced in embryos which fail to synthesize heparan sulfate glycosaminoglycans. Consistent with an involvement of Sulfateless and Sugarless in fibroblast growth factor receptor signaling, a constitutively activated form of Heartless partially rescues sugarless and sulfateless mutants, and dosage-sensitive interactions occur between heartless and the heparan sulfate glycosaminoglycan biosynthetic enzyme genes. We also find that overexpression of Branchless, the Breathless ligand, can partially overcome the requirement of Sugarless and Sulfateless for Breathless activity. These results provide the first genetic evidence that heparan sulfate glycosaminoglycans are essential for fibroblast growth factor receptor signaling in a well defined developmental context, and support a model in which heparan sulfate glycosaminoglycans facilitate fibroblast growth factor ligand and/or ligand-receptor oligomerization.
We have examined the role in patterning of quantitative variations of MAPK activity in signaling from the Drosophila Torso (Tor) receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK). Activation of Tor at the embryonic termini leads to differential expression of the genes tailless and huckebein. We demonstrate, using a series of mutations in the signal transducers Corkscrew/SHP-2 and D-Raf, that quantitative variations in the magnitude of MAPK activity trigger both qualitatively and quantitatively distinct transcriptional responses. We also demonstrate that two chimeric receptors, Torextracellular-Egfrcytoplasmic and Torextracellular-Sevcytoplasmic, cannot fully functionally replace the wild-type Tor receptor, revealing that the precise activation of MAPK involves not only the number of activated RTK molecules but also the magnitude of the signal generated by the RTK cytoplasmic domain. Altogether, our results illustrate how a gradient of MAPK activity controls differential gene expression and, thus, the establishment of various cell fates. We discuss the roles of quantitative mechanisms in defining RTK specificity.
Here, we identify four tyrosine residues (Y644, Y698, Y767, and Y772) that become phosphorylated after activation of the Torso (Tor) receptor tyrosine kinase. Previously, we characterized phosphotyrosine sites (P-Y630 and P-Y918). Of the six P-Y sites identified, three (Y630, Y644, and Y698) are located in the kinase domain insert region, one (Y918) is located in the C-terminal tail region, and two (Y767 and Y772) are located in the activation loop of the kinase domain. To investigate the function of each P-Y residue in Tor signaling, we have generated transgenic Drosophila embryos expressing mutant Tor receptors containing either single or multiple tyrosine to phenylalanine substitutions. Single P-Y mutations were found to have either positive, negative, or no effect on the signaling activity of the receptor. Elimination of all P-Y sites within the kinase insert region resulted in the complete loss of receptor function, indicating that some combination of these sites is necessary for Tor signaling. Mutation of the C-terminal P-Y918 site revealed that this site is responsible for negative signaling or down-regulation of receptor activity. Mutation of the P-Y sites in the kinase domain activation loop demonstrated that these sites are essential for enzymatic activity. Our analysis provides a detailed in vivo example of the extent of cooperativity between P-Y residues in transducing the signal received by a receptor tyrosine kinase and in vivo data demonstrating the function of P-Y residues in the activation loop of the kinase domain.
The Drosophila EGF receptor (DER) is required for the specification of diverse cell fates throughout development. We have examined how the activation of DER controls the development of vein and intervein cells in the Drosophila wing. The data presented here indicate that two distinct events are involved in the determination and differentiation of wing cells. (1) The establishment of a positive feedback amplification loop, which drives DER signaling in larval stages. At this time, rhomboid (rho), in combination with vein, initiates and amplifies the activity of DER in vein cells. (2) The late downregulation of DER activity. At this point, the inactivation of MAPK in vein cells is necessary for the maintenance of the expression of decapentaplegic (dpp) and becomes essential for vein differentiation. Together, these temporal and spatial changes in the activity of DER constitute an autoregulatory network that controls the definition of vein and intervein cell types.
We have identified the Drosophila transmembrane molecule kekkon 1 (kek1) as an inhibitor of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and demonstrate that it acts in a negative feedback loop to modulate the activity of the EGFR tyrosine kinase. During oogenesis, kek1 is expressed in response to the Gurken/EGFR signaling pathway, and loss of kek1 activity is associated with an increase in EGFR signaling. Consistent with our loss-of-function studies, we demonstrate that ectopic overexpression of kek1 mimics a loss of EGFR activity. We show that the extracellular and transmembrane domains of Kek1 can inhibit and physically associate with the EGFR, suggesting potential models for this inhibitory mechanism.
As a step toward the development of a homologous recombination system in Drosophila, we have developed a methodology to target double-strand breaks (DSBs) to a specific position in the Drosophila genome. This method uses the mitochondrial endonuclease I-SceI that recognizes and cuts an 18-bp restriction site. We find that >6% of the progeny derived from males that carry a marker gene bordered by two I-SceI sites and that express I-SceI in their germ line lose the marker gene. Southern blot analysis and sequencing of the regions surrounding the I-SceI sites revealed that in the majority of the cases, the introduction of DSBs at the I-SceI sites resulted in the complete deletion of the marker gene; the other events were associated with partial deletion of the marker gene. We discuss a number of applications for this novel technique, in particular its use to study DSB repair mechanisms.
The JAK/STAT signaling pathway is required for many processes including cytokine signaling, hematopoiesis, gliagenesis, and Drosophila segmentation. In this report we present evidence demonstrating that the JAK/STAT pathway is also central to the establishment of planar polarity during Drosophila eye development. We show that a localized source of the pathway ligand, Unpaired, is present at the midline of the developing eye, which is capable of activating the JAK/STAT pathway over long distances. A gradient of JAK/STAT activity across the DV axis of the eye regulates ommatidial polarity via an unidentified second signal. Additionally, localized Unpaired influences the position of the equator via repression of mirror.
In Drosophila, planar cell polarity (PCP) signaling is mediated by the receptor Frizzled (Fz) and transduced by Dishevelled (Dsh). Wingless (Wg) signaling also requires Dsh and may utilize DFz2 as a receptor. Using a heterologous system, we show that Dsh is recruited selectively to the membrane by Fz but not DFz2, and this recruitment depends on the DEP domain but not the PDZ domain in Dsh. A mutation in the DEP domain impairs both membrane localization and the function of Dsh in PCP signaling, indicating that translocation is important for function. Further genetic and molecular analyses suggest that conserved domains in Dsh function differently during PCP and Wg signaling, and that divergent intracellular pathways are activated. We propose that Dsh has distinct roles in PCP and Wg signaling. The PCP signal may selectively result in focal Fz activation and asymmetric relocalization of Dsh to the membrane, where Dsh effects cytoskeletal reorganization to orient prehair initiation.
We have identified a gene, DRhoGEF2, which encodes a putative guanine nucleotide exchange factor belonging to the Dbl family of oncogenes. DRhoGEF2 function is essential for the coordination of cell shape changes during gastrulation. In the absence of maternal DRhoGEF2 gene activity, mesodermal and endodermal primordia fail to invaginate. The phenotype seen in DRhoGEF2 mutants is more severe than the defects associated with mutations in two previously identified gastrulation genes, folded gastrulation and concertina, suggesting that DRhoGEF2 acts in a signaling pathway independent of these genes. Expression of dominant-negative DRhoA during gastrulation results in phenocopies of the DRhoGEF2 mutant, suggesting that a signaling cascade involving DRhoGEF2 and the small GTPase DRhoA is responsible for the regulation of cell shape changes during early Drosophila morphogenesis.
In vertebrates, many cytokines and growth factors have been identified as activators of the JAK/STAT signaling pathway. In Drosophila, JAK and STAT molecules have been isolated, but no ligands or receptors capable of activating the pathway have been described. We have characterized the unpaired (upd) gene, which displays the same distinctive embryonic mutant defects as mutations in the Drosophila JAK (hopscotch) and STAT (stat92E) genes. Upd is a secreted protein, associated with the extracellular matrix, that activates the JAK pathway. We propose that Upd is a ligand that relies on JAK signaling to stimulate transcription of pair-rule genes in a segmentally restricted manner in the early Drosophila embryo.
The small guanine nucleotide binding protein p21(Ras) plays an important role in the activation of the Raf kinase. However, the precise mechanism by which Raf is activated remains unclear. It has been proposed that the sole function of p21(Ras )in Raf activation is to recruit Raf to the plasma membrane. We have used Drosophila embryos to examine the mechanism of Raf (Draf) activation in the complete absence of p21(Ras) (Ras1). We demonstrate that the role of Ras1 in Draf activation is not limited to the translocation of Draf to the membrane through a Ras1-Draf association. In addition, Ras1 is essential for the activation of an additional factor which in turn activates Draf.
We have developed a 'directed mosaic' system in Drosophila by using the GAL4 system to control the expression of the yeast recombinase, FLP, in a spatial and temporal fashion. By directing FLP expression, we show that it is possible to efficiently and specifically target loss-of-function studies for vital loci to the developmental pathway of interest. A simple F1 adult phenotypic screen demonstrated that most adult tissues can be analyzed with this approach. Using GAL4 lines expressed during oogenesis, we have refined the system to examine the roles of vital loci in the development of the follicular epithelium. We have identified essential genes involved in egg chamber organization, cell migration and cell shape. Further, we have used this technique to gain insights into the role of the Drosophila EGF receptor pathway in establishing the egg axes. Finally, using different UAS-FLP, GAL4 and existing FRT lines, we have built stocks that permit the analysis of approximately 95% of the genome in follicular mosaics.
In Drosophila, specification of embryonic terminal cells is controlled by the Torso receptor tyrosine kinase. Here, we analyze the molecular basis of positive (Y630) and negative (Y918) phosphotyrosine (pY) signaling sites on Torso. We find that the Drosophila homolog of RasGAP associates with pY918 and is a negative effector of Torso signaling. Further, we show that the tyrosine phosphatase Corkscrew (CSW), which associates with pY630, specifically dephosphorylates the negative pY918 Torso signaling site, thus identifying Torso to be a substrate of CSW in the terminal pathway. CSW also serves as an adaptor protein for DRK binding, physically linking Torso to Ras activation. The opposing actions of CSW and RasGAP modulate the strength of the Torso signal, contributing to the establishment of precise boundaries for terminal structure development.
Hedgehog (Hh) proteins act through both short-range and long-range signalling to pattern tissues during invertebrate and vertebrate development. The mechanisms allowing Hedgehog to diffuse over a long distance and to exert its long-range effects are not understood. Here we identify a new Drosophila gene, named tout-velu, that is required for diffusion of Hedgehog. Characterization of tout-velu shows that it encodes an integral membrane protein that belongs to the EXT gene family. Members of this family are involved in the human multiple exostoses syndrome, which affects bone morphogenesis. Our results, together with the previous characterization of the role of Indian Hedgehog in bone morphogenesis, lead us to propose that the multiple exostoses syndrome is associated with abnormal diffusion of Hedgehog proteins. These results show the existence of a new conserved mechanism required for diffusion of Hedgehog.
14-3-3 proteins have been shown to interact with Raf-1 and cause its activation when overexpressed. However, their precise role in Raf-1 activation is still enigmatic, as they are ubiquitously present in cells and found to associate with Raf-1 in vivo regardless of its activation state. We have analyzed the function of the Drosophila 14-3-3 gene leonardo (leo) in the Torso (Tor) receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) pathway. In the syncytial blastoderm embryo, activation of Tor triggers the Ras/Raf/MEK pathway that controls the transcription of tailless (tll). We find that, in the absence of Tor, overexpression of leo is sufficient to activate tll expression. The effect of leo requires D-Raf and Ras1 activities but not KSR or DOS, two recently identified essential components of Drosophila RTK signaling pathways. Tor signaling is impaired in embryos derived from females lacking maternal expression of leo. We propose that binding to 14-3-3 by Raf is necessary but not sufficient for the activation of Raf and that overexpressed Drosophila 14-3-3 requires Ras1 to activate D-Raf.