The imaginal discs of Drosophila, which give rise to the adult appendages, are patterned during a period of intense cell proliferation. The specification of differing regions occurs in some cases by subdividing the disc epithelium into lineage compartments. However, in most cases precise boundaries are formed between different cell types without early compartmentalization. One such boundary occurs between the wingless (wg)-expressing cells of the wing margin and the adjacent proneural cells, which give rise to margin sensory bristles. Here we show that this boundary arises in part by a mechanism of 'self-refinement', by which wingless protein (Wg) represses wg expression in adjacent cells. Cells unable to receive the Wg signal do not resolve the boundary between wg-expressing and proneural cells.
Screens for zygotic lethal mutations that are associated with specific maternal effect lethal phenotypes have only been conducted for the X chromosome. To identify loci on the autosomes, which represent four-fifths of the Drosophila genome, we have used the autosomal "FLP-DFS" technique to screen a collection of 496 P element-induced mutations established by the Berkeley Drosophila Genome Project. We have identified 64 new loci whose gene products are required for proper egg formation or normal embryonic development.
In mammals, many cytokines and growth factors stimulate members of the Janus kinase (JAK) family to transduce signals for the proliferation and differentiation of various cell types, particularly in hematopoietic lineages. Mutations in the Drosophila hopscotch (hop) gene, which encodes a JAK, also cause proliferative defects. Loss-of-function alleles result in lethality and underproliferation of diploid tissues of the larva. A dominant gain-of-function allele, Tumorous-lethal (hopTum-l), leads to formation of melanotic tumors and hypertrophy of the larval lymph glands, the hematopoietic organs. We show that a single amino acid change in Hop is associated with the hopTum-l mutation. Overexpression of either wild-type hop or hopTum-l in the larval lymph glands causes melanotic tumors and lymph gland hypertrophy indistinguishable from the original hopTum-l mutation. In addition, overexpression of Hop in other tissues of the larva leads to pattern defects in the adult or to lethality. Finally, overexpression of either hop or hopTum-l in Drosophila cell culture results in tyrosine phosphorylation of Hop protein. However, overexpression of hopTum-l results in greater phosphorylation than overexpression of the wild-type. We conclude that hopTum-l encodes a hyperactive Hop kinase and that overactivity of Hop in lymph glands causes malignant neoplasia of Drosophila blood cells.
The process of body prepatterning during Drosophila blastoderm formation relies on the localized activities of zygotic segmentation genes, which are controlled by asymmetrically distributed maternal determinants. The anterior determinant bicoid, a homeodomain transcription factor, forms an anterior-to-posterior concentration gradient. It interacts with the maternal transcription factor hunchback to activate the anterior zygotic patterning genes, including the central gap gene Krüppel (Kr). In contrast, the posterior maternal system does not provide such a decisive transcription factor, but rather prevents the repressor hunchback from acting in the posterior half so that the gap genes giant (gt) and knirps (kni) are activated by an as yet unknown transcription factor. Here we show that caudal, a conserved homeodomain protein that forms a posterior-to-anterior concentration gradient, and the anterior determinant bicoid cooperate to form a partly redundant activator system in the posterior region of the embryo.
Signaling factors of the Wnt proto-oncogene family are implicated in dorsal axis formation during vertebrate development, but the molecular mechanism of this process is not known. Studies in Drosophila have indicated that the dishevelled gene product is required for wingless (Wnt1 homolog) signal transduction. We demonstrate that injection of mRNA encoding a Xenopus homolog of dishevelled (Xdsh) into prospective ventral mesodermal cells triggers a complete dorsal axis formation in Xenopus embryos. Lineage tracing experiments show that cells derived from the injected blastomere contribute to anterior and dorsal structures of the induced axis. In contrast to its effect on mesoderm, overexpression of Xdsh mRNA in prospective ectodermal cells triggers anterior neural tissue differentiation. These studies suggest that Wnt signal transduction pathway is conserved between Drosophila and vertebrates and point to a role for maternal Xdsh product in dorsal axis formation and in neural induction.
We have characterized a Drosophila gene that is a highly conserved homolog of the mammalian cyclic AMP (cAMP)-responsive transcription factors CREB and CREM. Uniquely among Drosophila genes characterized to date, it codes for a cAMP-responsive transcriptional activator. An alternatively spliced product of the same gene is a specific antagonist of cAMP-inducible transcription. Analysis of the splicing pattern of the gene suggests that the gene may be the predecessor of the mammalian CREB and CREM genes.
The Drosophila gene wingless is a member of the Wnt gene family, a group of genes that are involved in embryonic development and the regulation of cell proliferation. wingless encodes a secreted glycoprotein that plays a role in embryogenesis as well as in the development of adult structures. In the primordia of the adult limbs, the imaginal discs, wingless is expressed in an anterior ventral sector and is required for specification of ventral fate. Ectopic expression of low levels of Wingless in the leg discs leads to partial ventralization and outgrowths of the proximodistal axis. Wingless has thus been proposed to specify ventral fate in a concentration dependent manner (i.e., as a morphogen) and to organize the proximodistal axis. We have extended the analysis of Wingless function in the leg primordium through targeted ectopic expression. We find that Wingless has two functions in the leg disc. In the specification of ventral fate, our data indicate that Wingless does not function as a morphogen but instead appears to collaborate with other factors. In addition to its role in ventral fate specification, Wingless inhibits the commitment of dorsal cells toward a determined state and influences the regulation of proliferation. We propose a model in which Wingless achieves separate functions via spatially regulated mechanisms and discuss the significance of these functions during axial patterning and organization.
Proper spatial expression of the wingless (wg) gene in the Drosophila embryonic epidermis is crucial to intrasegmental patterning. Single cell wide wg expression is initiated at the blastoderm stage in response to combinatorial regulation by the pair rule genes. Later, during gastrulation, when the epidermal expression of the pair rule genes has disappeared, wg becomes regulated by the activity of the segment polarity genes. The segment polarity gene engrailed (en) is expressed in cells adjacent to the wg-expressing cells and is required to maintain wg transcription. Since wg is in turn required to maintain en expression, wg appears to autoregulate its own expression through an endependent paracrine feedback loop. In this paper, we demonstrate that wild-type wg expression requires wg activity during stage 9, prior to its requirement for en maintenance, indicating that wg has an autoregulatory role that is distinct from its paracrine feedback loop through en. In addition, by misexpressing Wg and En in distinct spatial patterns in the epidermis, we find that En is capable of inducing expression from the endogenous wg gene only in immediate adjacent cells which have been exposed to Wg. Furthermore, exogenous Wg expression enables maintenance of endogenous wg transcription in both wg and en mutant embryos. Our results support the model that in the wild-type embryo, wg has an autoregulatory function which is distinct and separable from paracrine regulation via en. We also provide evidence that late, localized Wg expression is crucial for the asymmetric patterning of epidermal cell types as reflected in the larval cuticle.
The Drosophila segment polarity gene wingless (wg) is required in the regulation of engrailed (en) expression and the determination of cell fates in neighboring cells. This paracrine wg activity also regulates transcription of wg itself, through a positive feedback loop including en activity. In addition, wg has a second, more direct autoregulatory requirement that is distinct from the en-dependent feedback loop. Four gene products, encoded by armadillo (arm), dishevelled (dsh), porcupine (porc) and zeste-white 3 (zw3), have been previously implicated as components of wg paracrine signaling. Here we have used three different assays to assess the requirements of these genes in the more direct wg autoregulatory pathway. While the activities of dsh, zw3 and arm appear to be specific to the paracrine feedback pathway, the more direct autoregulatory pathway requires porc.
Activation of the receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) torso defines the spatial domains of expression of the transcription factors tailless and huckebein. Previous analyses have demonstrated that Ras1 (p21ras) operates upstream of the D-Raf (Raf1) serine/threonine kinase in this signaling pathway. By using a recently developed technique of germline mosaics, we find that D-Raf can be activated by torso in the complete absence of Ras1. This result is supported by analysis of D-Raf activation in the absence of either the exchange factor Son of sevenless (Sos) or the adaptor protein drk (Grb2), as well as by the phenotype of a D-Raf mutation that abolishes binding of Ras1 to D-Raf. Our study provides in vivo evidence that Raf can be activated by an RTK in a Ras-independent pathway.
The determination of specific cell fates and polarity within each segmental unit of the Drosophila embryo involves the products of the segment polarity genes. One of these, wingless (wg), encodes a secreted protein that is homologous to the mammalian proto-oncogene Wnt-1 (refs 4, 5). In the embryonic epidermis, wg is expressed in a single row of cells within each segmental unit, although its activity is required for the correct patterning of most of the epidermis. Initially Wg signals to adjacent posterior cells, maintaining engrailed (en) expression. Later during embryogenesis, wg specifies the differentiation of naked cuticle. Wg signalling functions by inactivating or antagonizing the activity of zestewhite 3 (zw3). We have investigated the requirement in the Wg signal transduction pathway for the three genes armadillo (arm), dishevelled (dsh) and porcupine (porc), all of which have embryonic mutant phenotypes similar to wg. Our results indicate that dsh and porc act upstream of zw3, and arm acts downstream of zw3.
The Wnt genes encode conserved secreted proteins that play a role in normal development and tumorigenesis. Little is known about the signal transduction pathways of Wnt gene products. One of the best characterized Wnt family members is the Drosophila segment polarity gene wingless. We have investigated whether segment polarity genes with a wingless-like phenotype mediate the wingless signal. We used a wingless transgene controlled by a heat-shock promoter for genetic epistasis experiments. We show that wingless acts through dishevelled and armadillo to affect the expression of the homeobox gene engrailed and cuticle differentiation.
The Drosophila Wnt-1 homolog, wingless (wg), is involved in the signaling of patterning information in several contexts. In the embryonic epidermis, Wg protein is secreted and taken up by neighboring cells, in which it is required for maintenance of engrailed transcription and accumulation of Armadillo protein. The dishevelled (dsh) gene mediates these signaling events as well as wg-dependent induction across tissue layers in the embryonic midgut. dsh is also required for the development processes in which wg functions in adult development. Overall, cells lacking dsh are unable to adopt fates specified by Wg. dsh functions cell autonomously, indicating that it is involved in the response of target cells to the Wg signal. dsh is expressed uniformly in the embryo and encodes a novel protein with no known catalytic motifs, although it shares a domain of homology with several junction-associated proteins. Our results demonstrate that dsh encodes a specific component of Wg signaling and illustrate that Wnt proteins may utilize a novel mechanism of extracellular signal transduction.
We have identified dominant mutations that suppress the lethality associated with an R217-->L mutation in the GTP.Ras binding region (CR1) of the Drosophila raf (D-raf) serine/threonine kinase. Four intragenic and seven extragenic suppressors were recovered. Each of the four intragenic mutations contains one compensatory amino acid change located in either the CR1 or the kinase domain of D-raf. The seven extragenic suppressors represent at least four genetic loci whose effects strongly suggest that they participate in both the sevenless and Drosophila EGF receptor (DER) signaling pathways. One of these mutations, Su(D-raf)34B, is an allele of D-mek which encodes the known signaling molecule MAPK kinase (MEK). A D83V mutation in D-MEK is identified and shown to be sufficient to confer the dominant activity of Su(D-raf)34B.
In the Drosophila embryo dishevelled (dsh) function is required by target cells in order to respond to wingless (wg, the homolog of Wnt-1), demonstrating a role for dsh in Wnt signal transduction. We have isolated a mouse homolog of the Drosophila dsh segment polarity gene. The 695-amino-acid protein encoded by the mouse dishevelled gene (Dvl-1) shares 50% identity (65% similarity) with dsh. Similarity searches of protein and DNA data bases revealed that Dvl-1 encodes an otherwise novel polypeptide. While no functional motifs were identified, one region of Dvl-1 was found to be similar to a domain of discs large-1 (dlg), a Drosophila tumor suppressor gene. In the embryo, Dvl-1 is expressed in most tissues, with uniformly high levels in the central nervous system. From 7.5 days postcoitum Dvl-1 is expressed throughout the developing brain and spinal cord, including those regions expressing Wnt-1 and En. Expression of Dvl-1 in adult mice was found to be widespread, with brain and testis exhibiting the highest levels. The majority of Dvl-1 expression in the adult cerebellum is in the granular cell layer, similar to the pattern seen for engrailed-2 (En-2). Throughout postnatal development of the brain Dvl-1 is highly expressed in areas of high neuronal cell density.
In Drosophila, as in mammalian cells, the Raf serine/threonine kinase appears to act as a common transducer of signals from several different receptor tyrosine kinases. We describe a new role for Raf in Drosophila development, showing that Raf acts in the somatic follicle cells to specify the dorsoventral polarity of the egg. Targeted expression of activated Raf (Rafgof) within follicle cells is sufficient to dorsalize both the eggshell and the embryo, whereas reduced Raf activity ventralizes the eggshell. We show that Raf functions downstream of the EGF receptor to instruct the dorsal follicle cell fate. In this assay, human and Drosophila Rafgof are functionally similar, in that either can induce ventral follicle cells to assume a dorsal fate.
We describe the characterization of the Drosophila gene, hopscotch (hop), which is required maternally for the establishment of the normal array of embryonic segments. In hop embryos, although expression of the gap genes appears normal, there are defects in the expression patterns of the pair-rule genes even-skipped, runt, and fushi tarazu, as well as the segment-polarity genes engrailed and wingless. We demonstrate that the effect of hop on the expression of these genes is stripe-specific. The hop gene encodes a putative nonreceptor tyrosine kinase of the Janus kinase family, based on an internal duplication of the catalytic domain. We present a model in which the Hop tyrosine kinase is involved in the control of pair-rule gene transcription in a stripe-specific manner. Our results provide the first evidence for stripe-specific regulation of pair-rule genes by a tyrosine kinase.
MEK, a dual specificity threonine/tyrosine kinase, has been postulated to be a convergent point for signaling from receptor protein tyrosine kinases (RTKs) and G-protein-coupled receptors. In contrast to yeast and mammalian cells where several MEKs have been isolated, only one Drosophila MEK (D-Mek) has been characterized to date. Previous studies have shown that D-Mek acts in the Torso RTK signaling pathway. To demonstrate that D-Mek also operates downstream of other RTKs, we generated a temperature-sensitive allele of D-mek (D-mekts) by site-directed mutagenesis based on the amino acid change of a yeast cdc2ts mutation. Using D-mekts, we show that in addition to its role in Torso signaling, D-Mek operates in the Sevenless and in the Drosophila epidermal growth factor RTK pathways. Because loss-of-function mutations in D-mek and the upstream receptors give rise to similar phenotypes, it suggests that D-mek is the only MEK activated by Drosophila RTKs. In addition, we demonstrate that different RTK pathways respond differently to alteration in D-Mek activity.
The 'dominant female-sterile' technique used to generate germ-line mosaics in Drosophila is a powerful tool to determine the tissue specificity (germ line versus somatic) of recessive female-sterile mutations as well as to analyze the maternal effect of recessive zygotic lethal mutations. This technique requires the availability of germ-line-dependent, dominant female-sterile (DFS) mutations that block egg laying but do not affect viability. To date only one X-linked mutation, ovoD1 has been isolated that completely fulfills these criteria. Thus the 'DFS technique' has been largely limited to the X-chromosome. To extend this technique to the autosomes, we have cloned the ovoD1 mutation into a P-element vector and recovered fully expressed P[ovoD1] insertions on each autosomal arm. We describe the generation of these P[ovoD1] strains as well as demonstrate their use in generating germ-line chimeras. Specifically, we show that the Gap1 gene, which encodes a Drosophila homologue of mammalian GTPase-activating protein, is required in somatic follicle cells for embryonic dorsoventral polarity determination.
Determination of cell fate at the posterior termini of the Drosophila embryo is specified by the activation of the torso (tor) receptor tyrosine kinase. This signaling pathway is mediated by the serine/threonine kinase D-raf and a protein tyrosine phosphatase corkscrew (csw). We found that expression of an activated form of Ras1 during oogenesis resulted in embryos with tor gain-of-function phenotypes. To demonstrate that p21ras/Ras1 mediates tor signaling, we injected mammalian p21ras variants into early Drosophila embryos. We found that the injection of activated p21v-ras rescued the maternal-effect phenotypes of both tor and csw null mutations. These rescuing effects of p21v-ras are dependent on the presence of maternally derived D-raf activity. In addition, wild-type embryos show a terminal-class phenotype resembling csw when injected with p21rasN17, a dominant-negative form of p21ras. Furthermore, we have analyzed the maternal-effect phenotype of Son of sevenless (Sos), a positive regulator of Ras1, and showed that embryos derived from germ cells lacking Sos+ activity exhibit a terminal-class phenotype. Our study demonstrates that the Drosophila p21ras, encoded by Ras1, is an intrinsic component of the tor signaling pathway, where it is both necessary and sufficient in specifying posterior terminal cell fates. p21ras/Ras1 operates upstream of the D-raf kinase in this signaling pathway.