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.
We have characterized mutations in the Drosophila homolog of the mammalian proto-oncogene c-Jun gene (Djun). We demonstrate that DJUN in the embryo is a downstream target of the JNK signal transduction pathway during dorsal closure formation, and that the function of the JNK/DJUN pathway is to control the localized expression of decapentalegic (dpp), a member of the TGF-beta growth factor family. In contrast to previous observations, we find that both in the embryo and during photoreceptor cell determination, DJUN is not regulated by a pathway that involves MAPK.
We have identified and characterized a Drosophila gene, which we have named sugarless, that encodes a homologue of vertebrate UDP-glucose dehydrogenase. This enzyme is essential for the biosynthesis of various proteoglycans, and we find that in the absence of both maternal and zygotic activities of this gene, mutant embryos develop with segment polarity phenotypes reminiscent to loss of either Wingless or Hedgehog signaling. To analyze the function of Sugarless in cell-cell interaction processes, we have focused our analysis on its requirement for Wingless signaling in different tissues. We report that sugarless mutations impair signaling by Wingless, suggesting that proteoglycans contribute to the reception of Wingless. We demonstrate that overexpression of Wingless can bypass the requirement for sugarless, suggesting that proteoglycans modulate signaling by Wingless, possibly by limiting its diffusion and thereby facilitating the binding of Wingless to its receptor. We discuss the possibility that tissue-specific regulation of proteoglycans may be involved in regulating both Wingless short- or long-range effects.
Hearing is one of the last sensory modalities to be subjected to genetic analysis in Drosophila melanogaster. We describe a behavioral assay for auditory function involving courtship among groups of males triggered by the pulse component of the courtship song. In a mutagenesis screen for mutations that disrupt the auditory response, we have recovered 15 mutations that either reduce or abolish this response. Mutant audiograms indicate that seven mutants reduced the amplitude of the response at all intensities. Another seven abolished the response altogether. The other mutant, 5L3, responded only at high sound intensities, indicating that the threshold was shifted in this mutant. Six mutants were characterized in greater detail. 5L3 had a general courtship defect; courtship of females by 5L3 males also was affected strongly. 5P1 males courted females normally but had reduced success at copulation. 5P1 and 5N18 showed a significant decrement in olfactory response, indicating that the defects in these mutations are not specific to the auditory pathway. Two other mutants, 5M8 and 5N30, produced amotile sperm although in 5N30 this phenotype was genetically separable from the auditory phenotype. Finally, a new adult circling behavior phenotype, the pirouette phenotype, associated with massive neurodegeneration in the brain, was discovered in two mutants, 5G10 and 5N18. This study provides the basis for a genetic and molecular dissection of auditory mechanosensation and auditory behavior.
Drosophila Discs large (Dlg) is a tumor suppressor gene whose loss in epithelial tissues causes disrupted cell polarity and increased cell proliferation. A human Dlg homolog, hDlg, has been implicated in tumorigenic processes via its association with the product of the Adenomatous Polyposis Coli (APC) gene. We show for the first time that Drosophila Dlg is required to block cell invasion. Loss of dlg activity during oogenesis causes follicle cells to change shape and invade in a pattern similar to border cells, a small population of cells that break from the post-mitotic follicular epithelium during wild-type oogenesis, yet dlg mutant cells have not adopted a border cell fate. Both functional and morphological evidence indicates that cooperation between germ cell and follicle cell Dlg, probably mediated by Dlg PDZ domains, is crucial for regulating cell mixing, suggesting a novel developmental mechanism and mode of action for the Dlg family of molecules. These findings suggest that Dlg does not simply inhibit individual cell behaviors during oogenesis, but rather acts in a developmental pathway essential for blocking cell proliferation and migration in a spatio-temporally defined manner. A model for Dlg action in blocking cell invasion is presented.
Recent studies in Drosophila have identified a single JAK and a single STAT protein. Genetic and biochemical analyses reveal that these two proteins operate in the same signal transduction pathway. Phenotypic analyses of JAK and STAT mutants implicate this pathway in a number of developmental decisions, in particular the regulation of pair-rule genes and fly hematopoiesis.
In Drosophila melanogaster, position-effect variegation of the white gene has been a useful phenomenon by which to study chromosome structure and the genes that modify it. We have identified a new enhancer of variegation locus, Dmrnahel (hel). Deletion of mutation of hel enhances white variegation, and this can be reversed by a transformed copy of hel+. In the presence of two endogenous copies, the transformed hel+ behaves as a suppressor of variegation. hel is an essential gene and functions both maternally and zygotically. The HEL protein is similar to known RNA helicases, but contains an unusual variant (DECD) of the DEAD motif common to these proteins. Potential HEL homologues have been found in mammals, yeast and worms. HEL protein associates with salivary gland chromosomes and locates to nuclei of embryos and ovaries, but disappears in mitotic domains of embryos as chromosomes condense. We propose that the HEL protein promotes an open chromatin structure that favors transcription during development by regulating the spread of heterochromatin, and that HEL is regulated by, and may have a role in, the mitotic cell cycle during embryogenesis.
Homeobox genes specify cell fate and positional identity in embryos throughout the animal kingdom. Paradoxically, although each has a specific function in vivo, the in vitro DNA-binding specificities of homeodomain proteins are overlapping and relatively weak. A current model is that homeodomain proteins interact with cofactors that increase specificity in vivo. Here we use a native binding site for the homeodomain protein Fushi tarazu (Ftz) to isolate Ftz-F1, a protein of the nuclear hormone-receptor superfamily and a new Ftz cofactor. Ftz and Ftz-F1 are present in a complex in Drosophila embryos. Ftz-F1 facilitates the binding of Ftz to DNA, allowing interactions with weak-affinity sites at concentrations of Ftz that alone bind only high-affinity sites. Embryos lacking Ftz-F1 display ftz-like pair-rule cuticular defects. This phenotype is a result of abnormal ftz function because it is expressed but fails to activate downstream target genes. Cooperative interaction between homeodomain proteins and cofactors of different classes may serve as a general mechanism to increase HOX protein specificity and to broaden the range of target sites they regulate.
The production of female germline chimeras is invaluable for analyzing the tissue specificity of recessive female sterile mutations as well as detecting the maternal effect of recessive zygotic lethal mutations. Previously, we developed the "FLP-DFS" technique to efficiently generate germline clones. This technique uses the X-linked germline-dependent dominant female sterile mutation ovoD1 as a selection for the detection of germline recombination events, and the FLP-FRT recombination system to promote site-specific chromosomal exchange. This method allows the efficient production of germline mosaics only on the X chromosome. In this paper we have built chromosomes that allow the use of this technique to the autosomes. We describe the various steps involved in the development of this technique as well as the properties of the chromosomes utilized.
The segment polarity gene dishevelled (dsh) of Drosophila is required for pattern formation of the embryonic segments and the adult imaginal discs. dsh encodes the earliest-acting and most specific known component of the signal transduction pathway of Wingless, an extracellular signal homologous to Wnt1 in mice. We have previously described the isolation and characterization of the Dvl1 mouse dsh homolog. We report here the isolation of a second mouse dsh homolog, Dvl2, which maps to chromosome 11. The Dvl2 amino acid sequence is equally related to the dsh sequence as is that of Dvl1, but Dvl2 is most similar to the Xenopus homolog Xdsh. However, unlike the other vertebrate dsh homologs. Like the other genes, Dvl2 is ubiquitously expressed throughout most of embryogenesis and is expressed in many adult organs. We have developed an assay for dsh function in fly embryos, and show that Dvl2 can partially rescue the segmentation defects of embryos devoid of dsh. Thus, Dvl2 encodes a mammalian homolog of dsh which can transduce the Wingless signal.
We have identified two members of a novel class of genes in Drosophila that encode putative transmembrane proteins with six leucine-rich repeats and a single immunoglobulin loop. These two molecules, Kek1 and Kek2, show striking conservation in their extracellular domains and have large and more divergent intracellular regions. Both genes are expressed in neurons as they differentiate in the embryonic central nervous system (CNS). kek1 is also expressed in other patterned epithelia, such as the follicle cells of the developing egg chamber, where it is found in a dorsal-ventral gradient around the oocyte. The homology of the kek genes to other known adhesion and signaling molecules, together with their expression patterns, suggests that both genes are involved in interactions at the cell surface. Genetic analysis reveals that deletion of the kek1 gene causes no obvious developmental defects. The coexpression of kek2 in the CNS leads us to suggest that Kek1 is part of a family of cell surface proteins with redundant function.
Specification of cell fates in the nonsegmented terminal regions of developing Drosophila embryos is under the control of a signal transduction pathway mediated by the receptor tyrosine kinase Torso (Tor). Here, we identify tyrosines (Y) 630 and 918 as the major sites of Tor autophosphorylation. We demonstrate that mutation of Y630, a site required for association with and tyrosine phosphorylation of the tyrosine phosphatase Corkscrew, decreases the efficiency of Tor signaling. In contrast, mutation of Y918, a site capable of binding mammalian rasGAP and PLC-gammal, increases Tor signaling. Interestingly, when receptors contain mutations in both the Y630 and Y918 sites, Tor signaling is restored to wild-type levels. These results identify a novel mechanism whereby Tor function is regulated using compensatory signals generated from distinct autophosphorylation sites and reveal an underlying signaling pathway for terminal development.
In Drosophila, the Wingless and Notch signaling pathways function in m any of the same developmental patterning events. Genetic analysis demonstrates that the dishevelled gene, which encodes a molecule previously implicated in implementation of the Winglass signal, interacts antagonistically with Notch and one of its known ligands, Delta. A direct physical interaction between Dishevelled and the Notch carboxyl terminus, distal to the cdc10/ankyrin repeats, suggests a mechanism for this interaction. It is proposed that Dishevelled, in addition to transducing the Wingless signal, blocks Notch signaling directly, thus providing a molecular mechanism for the inhibitory cross talk observed between these pathways.
We have identified a putative Drosophila STAT protein named Marelle that exhibits mutant phenotypes identical to mutations in the Hopscotch/JAK kinase. We show that a reduction in the amount of marelle gene activity suppresses the phenotype associated with a gain-of-function mutation in hopscotch and enhances the phenotype associated with a weak hopscotch mutation. We propose that Hopscotch activates Marelle to regulate transcription of target genes such as the pair rule gene even-skipped. Our results demonstrate the existence of an invertebrate JAK/STAT system.
Notch (N) and other neurogenic genes have been implicated in two fundamental processes, lateral specification of cell fates, and epithelial development. Previous studies have suggested that the neurogenic gene brainiac (brn) is specifically required for epithelial development (Goode, S., Morgan, M., Liang, Y-P. and Mahowald, A. P. (1996). Dev. Biol. 178, 35-50). In this report we show that egghead (egh), a gene with phenotypes identical to brn, encodes for a novel, putative secreted or transmembrane protein. We describe the role of egh and brn germline function in the morphogenesis of the follicular epithelium from the time it is born through the time that it migrates towards the oocyte late in oogenesis. By comparing the function of germline egh and brn to N during oogenesis, we have obtained direct evidence for the involvement of Notch in maintenance of the follicle cell epithelium, and the specificity of brn and egh in epithelial development during oogenesis. The most striking phenotype observed for all three genes is a loss of apical-basal polarity and accumulation of follicular epithelial cells in multiple layers around the oocyte. The spatiotemporal onset of this adenoma-like phenotype correlates with the differential accumulation of egh transcripts in the oocyte at stage 4 of oogenesis. In contrast to N, we find that brn and egh are essential for the organization, but not specification, of stalk and polar cells. The expression patterns and functional requirements of brn, egh, and N lead us to propose that these genes mediate follicular morphogenesis by regulating germline-follicle cell adhesion. This proposal offers explanations for (1) the involvement of egh and brn in N-mediated epithelial development, but not lateral specification, (2) why brn and egh embryonic neurogenic phenotypes are not as severe as N phenotypes, and (3) how egh and brn influence Egfr-mediated processes. The correlation between the differential expression of egh in the oocyte and the differential requirement for brn, egh, and N in maintaining the follicular epithelium around the oocyte, suggests that Egghead is a critical component of a differential oocyte-follicle cell adhesive system.
Corkscrew (csw) encodes a nonreceptor protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTPase) that has been implicated in signaling from the Torso receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK). csw mutations, unlike tor mutations, are associated with zygotic lethality, indicating that Csw plays additional roles during development. We have conducted a detailed phenotypic analysis of csw mutations to identify these additional functions of Csw. Our results indicate that Csw operates positively downstream of other Drosophila RTKs such as the Drosophila epidermal growth factor receptor (DER), the fibroblast growth factor receptor (Breathless), and likely other RTKs. This model is substantiated by specific dosage interactions between csw and DER. It is proposed that Csw is part of the evolutionarily conserved "signaling cassette" that operates downstream of all RTKs. In support of this hypothesis, we demonstrate that SHP-2, a vertebrate PTPase similar to Csw and previously implicated in RTK signaling, encodes the functional vertebrate homologue of Csw.
The Wnt protein Wingless (Wg) functions as a signal in patterning of both the Drosophila embryo and imaginal discs. Lack of porcupine (porc) activity is associated with mutant phenotypes similar to those of wg mutations. In porc mutant embryos, Wg protein is confined to the cells that produce it, suggesting that Porc plays a role in processing or secretion of Wg. porc encodes a novel transmembrane protein that appears to be concentrated at the endoplasmic reticulum. We present both genetic and in vitro evidence demonstrating that porc is involved specifically in the processing of Wg. We identified a human sequence related to Porc suggesting the existence of a family of proteins involved in processing of Wnts.