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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Formation of the tail region of the Drosophila larva requires the activities of the terminal class genes. Genetic and molecular analyses of these genes suggests that localized activation of the receptor tyrosine kinase torso at the posterior egg pole triggers a signal transduction pathway. This pathway, mediated through the serine/threonine protein kinase D-raf and the protein tyrosine phosphatase corkscrew, controls the domains of expression of the transcription factors tailless and huckebein. In this paper, we report the molecular and developmental characterization of mutations in the D-raf gene. We show that mutations that alter conserved residues known to be necessary for kinase activity are associated with a null phenotype, demonstrating that D-raf kinase activity is required for its role in torso signaling. Another mutation, D-rafPB26, which prematurely truncates the kinase domain shows a weaker maternal effect phenotype that is strikingly similar to the corkscrew maternal effect phenotype, suggesting that a lower amount of kinase activity decreases the terminal signaling pathway. Finally, molecular and developmental characterization of two mutations that affect the late D-raf zygotic function(s) implies a novel role for D-raf in cell fate establishment in the eye. One of these mutations, D-rafC110, is associated with a single amino acid change within the putative D-raf regulatory region, while the other, D-rafHM-7, most likely reduces the wild-type amount of D-raf protein.
In Drosophila the correct formation of the most anterior and posterior regions of the larva, acron and telson is dependent on the maternally expressed terminal class of genes. In their absence, the anterior head skeleton is truncated and all the structures posterior to the abdominal segment seven are not formed. The protein predicted to be encoded by one of these genes, torso (tor), seems to be a transmembrane protein with an extracytoplasmic domain acting as a receptor and a cytoplasmic domain containing tyrosine kinase activity. Here we report that another member of the terminal-genes class, l(1)polehole (l(1)ph), which is also zygotically expressed, is the Drosophila homologue of the v-raf oncogene and encodes a potential serine-and-threonine kinase. We also show that functional l(1)ph gene product is required for the expression of a gain-of-function tor mutant phenotype, indicating that l(1)ph acts downstream of tor. Together, these results support the idea that the induction of terminal development occurs through a signal transduction system, involving the local activation of the tor-encoded tyrosine kinase at the anterior and posterior egg poles, resulting in the phosphorylation of the l(1)ph gene product. In turn, downstream target proteins may be phosphorylated, ultimately leading to the regionalized expression of zygotic target genes. Such a process is in agreement with the finding that both tor and l(1)ph messenger RNAs are evenly distributed.
A murine v-raf probe, representing the kinase domain, was used to identify two unique loci in Drosophila melanogaster DNA. The most closely related to v-raf was mapped by in situ hybridization to position 2F5-6 (Draf-1) on the X chromosome, whereas the other raf-related gene (Draf-2) was found at position 43A2-5 on chromosome 2. The nucleotide and amino acid homologies of Draf-1 to the kinase domain of v-raf are 61 and 65%, respectively. The large amount of a 3.2-kilobase Draf-1 transcript detected in eggs as a maternal message decreases during embryonic development, and significant steady-state levels are observed throughout the remainder of morphogenesis. We speculate that the Draf-1 locus plays an important role in early embryogenesis.