Malignant transformation frequently involves aberrant signaling from receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). These receptors commonly activate Ras/Raf/MEK/MAPK signaling but when overactivated can also induce the JAK/STAT pathway, originally identified as the signaling cascade downstream of cytokine receptors. Inappropriate activation of STAT has been found in many human cancers. However, the contribution of the JAK/STAT pathway in RTK signaling remains unclear. We have investigated the requirement of the JAK/STAT pathway for signaling by wild-type and mutant forms of the RTK Torso (Tor) using a genetic approach in Drosophila. Our results indicate that the JAK/STAT pathway plays little or no role in signaling by wild-type Tor. In contrast, we find that STAT, encoded by marelle (mrl; DStat92E), is essential for the gain-of-function mutant Tor (Tor(GOF)) to activate ectopic gene expression. Our findings indicate that the Ras/Raf/MEK/MAPK signaling pathway is sufficient to mediate the normal functions of wild-type RTK, whereas the effects of gain-of-function mutant RTK additionally require STAT activation.
Here, we identify four tyrosine residues (Y644, Y698, Y767, and Y772) that become phosphorylated after activation of the Torso (Tor) receptor tyrosine kinase. Previously, we characterized phosphotyrosine sites (P-Y630 and P-Y918). Of the six P-Y sites identified, three (Y630, Y644, and Y698) are located in the kinase domain insert region, one (Y918) is located in the C-terminal tail region, and two (Y767 and Y772) are located in the activation loop of the kinase domain. To investigate the function of each P-Y residue in Tor signaling, we have generated transgenic Drosophila embryos expressing mutant Tor receptors containing either single or multiple tyrosine to phenylalanine substitutions. Single P-Y mutations were found to have either positive, negative, or no effect on the signaling activity of the receptor. Elimination of all P-Y sites within the kinase insert region resulted in the complete loss of receptor function, indicating that some combination of these sites is necessary for Tor signaling. Mutation of the C-terminal P-Y918 site revealed that this site is responsible for negative signaling or down-regulation of receptor activity. Mutation of the P-Y sites in the kinase domain activation loop demonstrated that these sites are essential for enzymatic activity. Our analysis provides a detailed in vivo example of the extent of cooperativity between P-Y residues in transducing the signal received by a receptor tyrosine kinase and in vivo data demonstrating the function of P-Y residues in the activation loop of the kinase domain.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cell fate choice at the anterior and posterior embryonic termini of the Drosophila embryo requires the activation of a signal transduction pathway regulated by the receptor tyrosine kinase Torso. When Torso, which is uniformly distributed in the egg cell membrane, becomes activated locally at the termini, it triggers a phosphorylation cascade that culminates with localized expression of the transcription factors, tailless and huckebein. Expression of tailless and huckebein in turn determines terminal cell fates. Several genes have been characterized which encode proteins that are involved in Torso signaling: the adaptor protein Drk, the GTP-binding protein Ras1, the guanine nucleotide exchange factor Son of sevenless, and the kinases D-Raf and D-Mek. Genetic and molecular evidence supports a model in which these proteins lie in the same biochemical pathway. When activated by its ligand the membrane-bound receptor tyrosine kinase Torso initiates a signal transduction pathway mediated by Drk, Sos, and Ras1, which in turn activates a phosphorylation cascade mediated by the kinases D-Raf and D-Mek, which ultimately control the localized expression of the transcription factors tailless and huckebein. Recently, we found that D-Raf can be partially activated by Torso in the absence of Ras1, a finding supported by the phenotype of embryos lacking either Drk or Sos activity, as well as by the phenotype of a D-raf mutation that abolishes binding of Ras1 to D-Raf. These findings indicate that full D-Raf activation requires input not only from Ras1 but also from an as yet uncharacterized Ras1-independent pathway. In addition to these molecules we have characterized the putative protein tyrosine phosphatase Corkscrew as a positive transducer downstream of Torso.
Pattern formation at the anterior and posterior termini of the Drosophila embryo involves intercellular communication via the Torso receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK). Recent advances in the understanding of Torso signaling has provided further support for the conservation of a signal transduction cassette downstream of RTKs. In addition, the analysis of the Torso pathway has begun to reveal general molecular mechanisms by which cells may impart patterning information to their neighbors through the use of RTKs.
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.
In the Drosophila embryo, specification of terminal cell fates that result in the formation of both the head (acron) and tail (telson) regions is under the control of the torso (tor) receptor tyrosine kinase. The current knowledge suggests that activation of tor at the egg pole initiates a signal transduction pathway that is mediated sequentially by the guanine nucleotide releasing factor son of sevenless (Sos), the p21Ras1 GTPase, the serine/threonine kinase D-raf and the tyrosine/threonine kinase MAPKK (Dsor1). Subsequently, it is postulated that activation, possibly by phosphorylation, of a transcription factor at the egg poles activates the transcription of the terminal gap genes tailless and huckebein. These gap genes, which encode putative transcription factors, then control the expression of more downstream factors that ultimately result in head and tail differentiation. Also involved in tor signaling is the non-receptor protein tyrosine phosphatase corkscrew (csw). Here, we review the current model and discuss future research directions in this field.
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.
In the Drosophila embryo, cell fate along the anterior-posterior axis is determined by maternally expressed genes. The activity of the bicoid (bcd) gene is required for the development of larval head and thoracic structures, and that of maternal torso (tor) for the development of the unsegmented region of the head (acron). In contrast to the case of thoracic and abdominal segmentation, the hierarchy of zygotically expressed genes controlling head development has not been clearly defined. The bcd protein, which is expressed in a gradient, activates zygotic expression of the gap gene hunchback (hb), but hb alone is not sufficient to specify head development. Driever et al. proposed that at least one other bcd-activated gene controls the development of head regions anterior to the hb domain. We report here that the homeobox gene orthodenticle (otd), which is involved in head development, could be such a gene. We also show that otd expression responds to the activity of the maternal tor gene at the anterior pole of the embryo.
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.
The segmental plan of the Drosophila embryo is already established at the blastoderm stage through the action of maternal effect genes which determine the polarity of the embryo and zygotically active genes involved in segmentation. We have analyzed the first example of a group of maternally acting genes which are necessary for establishing the developmental potential of the posterior 25% of the blastoderm. Females, homozygous for the X-linked maternal-effect mutation female sterile(1)Nasrat211 [fs(1)N211], produce embryos, characterized as torso-like, which lack all posterior endodermal derivatives as well as structures characteristic of abdominal segments 8 to 10. In addition, anterior endodermal derivatives are deficient and the absence of pharyngeal musculature causes a collapse of the cephalopharyngeal apparatus. The columnar blastoderm cell layer is defective at the posterior tip below the pole cells in these embryos. This defect, however, is presumably secondary to some abnormal feature of pole cell formation since in double mutants of fs(1)Nasrat211; tudor3 the blastoderm is normal but the embryos still show the torso-like phenotype. In situ hybridization with RNA probes derived from the fushi tarazu gene establishes that the cellular determination of the posterior blastoderm of embryos produced by fs(1)N211 is changed. This represents the first direct demonstration that a maternal-effect mutation alters the spatial distribution of a zygotic gene product involved in the segmental patterning of the embryo.