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.
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.
We describe the characterization of the Drosophila gene, corkscrew (csw), which is maternally required for normal determination of cell fates at the termini of the embryo. Determination of terminal cell fates is mediated by a signal transduction pathway that involves a receptor tyrosine kinase, torso, a serine/threonine kinase, D-raf, and the transcription factors, tailless and huckebein. Double mutant and cellular analyses between csw, torso, D-raf, and tailless indicate that csw acts downstream of torso and in concert with D-raf to positively transduce the torso signal via tailless, to downstream terminal genes. The csw gene encodes a putative nonreceptor protein tyrosine phosphatase covalently linked to two N-terminal SH2 domains, which is similar to the mammalian PTP1C protein.