Characterizing the extent and logic of signaling networks is essential to understanding specificity in such physiological and pathophysiological contexts as cell fate decisions and mechanisms of oncogenesis and resistance to chemotherapy. Cell-based RNA interference (RNAi) screens enable the inference of large numbers of genes that regulate signaling pathways, but these screens cannot provide network structure directly. We describe an integrated network around the canonical receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK)-Ras-extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling pathway, generated by combining parallel genome-wide RNAi screens with protein-protein interaction (PPI) mapping by tandem affinity purification-mass spectrometry. We found that only a small fraction of the total number of PPI or RNAi screen hits was isolated under all conditions tested and that most of these represented the known canonical pathway components, suggesting that much of the core canonical ERK pathway is known. Because most of the newly identified regulators are likely cell type- and RTK-specific, our analysis provides a resource for understanding how output through this clinically relevant pathway is regulated in different contexts. We report in vivo roles for several of the previously unknown regulators, including CG10289 and PpV, the Drosophila orthologs of two components of the serine/threonine-protein phosphatase 6 complex; the Drosophila ortholog of TepIV, a glycophosphatidylinositol-linked protein mutated in human cancers; CG6453, a noncatalytic subunit of glucosidase II; and Rtf1, a histone methyltransferase.
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.
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.
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.