Myosins are a superfamily of actin-dependent molecular motor proteins, among which the bipolar filament forming myosins II have been the most studied. The activity of smooth muscle/non-muscle myosin II is regulated by phosphorylation of the regulatory light chains, that in turn is modulated by the antagonistic activity of myosin light chain kinase and myosin light chain phosphatase. The phosphatase activity is mainly regulated through phosphorylation of its myosin binding subunit MYPT. To identify the function of these phosphorylation events, we have molecularly characterized the Drosophila homologue of MYPT, and analyzed its mutant phenotypes. We find that Drosophila MYPT is required for cell sheet movement during dorsal closure, morphogenesis of the eye, and ring canal growth during oogenesis. Our results indicate that the regulation of the phosphorylation of myosin regulatory light chains, or dynamic activation and inactivation of myosin II, is essential for its various functions during many developmental processes.
To characterize the features of JAK/STAT signaling in Drosophila immune response, we have identified totA as a gene that is regulated by the JAK/STAT pathway in response to septic injury. We show that septic injury triggers the hemocyte-specific expression of upd3, a gene encoding a novel Upd-like cytokine that is necessary for the JAK/STAT-dependent activation of totA in the Drosophila counterpart of the mammalian liver, the fat body. In addition, we demonstrate that totA activation also requires the NF-KB-like Relish pathway, indicating that fat body cells integrate the activity of NF-KB and JAK/STAT signaling pathways upon immune response. This study reveals that, in addition to the pattern recognition receptor-mediated NF-KB-dependent immune response, Drosophila undergoes a complex systemic response that is mediated by the production of cytokines in blood cells, a process that is similar to the acute phase response in mammals.
BACKGROUND: The diversity of metazoan cell shapes is influenced by the dynamic cytoskeletal network. With the advent of RNA-interference (RNAi) technology, it is now possible to screen systematically for genes controlling specific cell-biological processes, including those required to generate distinct morphologies. RESULTS: We adapted existing RNAi technology in Drosophila cell culture for use in high-throughput screens to enable a comprehensive genetic dissection of cell morphogenesis. To identify genes responsible for the characteristic shape of two morphologically distinct cell lines, we performed RNAi screens in each line with a set of double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) targeting 994 predicted cell shape regulators. Using automated fluorescence microscopy to visualize actin filaments, microtubules and DNA, we detected morphological phenotypes for 160 genes, one-third of which have not been previously characterized in vivo. Genes with similar phenotypes corresponded to known components of pathways controlling cytoskeletal organization and cell shape, leading us to propose similar functions for previously uncharacterized genes. Furthermore, we were able to uncover genes acting within a specific pathway using a co-RNAi screen to identify dsRNA suppressors of a cell shape change induced by Pten dsRNA. CONCLUSIONS: Using RNAi, we identified genes that influence cytoskeletal organization and morphology in two distinct cell types. Some genes exhibited similar RNAi phenotypes in both cell types, while others appeared to have cell-type-specific functions, in part reflecting the different mechanisms used to generate a round or a flat cell morphology.
Integrins and laminins are important mediators of cell-matrix interactions in both vertebrates and invertebrates. Here, we show that germ-band retraction in the Drosophila embryo, during which the tail end of the embryo retracts to its final posterior position, allows the investigation of cell spreading and lamellipodia formation in real time in vivo. We demonstrate that alpha1, 2 laminin and alphaPS3betaPS integrin are required for the spreading of a small group of cells of the amnioserosa epithelium over the tail end of the germ band. We further implicate a role for this spreading in the process of germ-band retraction.
The JAK/STAT pathway exerts pleiotropic effects on a wide range of developmental processes in Drosophila. Four key components have been identified: Unpaired, a secreted ligand; Domeless, a cytokine-like receptor; Hopscotch, a JAK kinase; and Stat92E, a STAT transcription factor. The identification of additional components and regulators of this pathway remains an important issue. To this end, we have generated a transgenic line where we misexpress the upd ligand in the developing Drosophila eye. GMR-upd transgenic animals have dramatically enlarged eye-imaginal discs and compound eyes that are normally patterned. We demonstrate that the enlarged-eye phenotype is a result of an increase in cell number, and not cell volume, and arises from additional mitoses in larval eye discs. Thus, the GMR-upd line represents a system in which the proliferation and differentiation of eye precursor cells are separable. Removal of one copy of stat92E substantially reduces the enlarged-eye phenotype. We performed an F1 deficiency screen to identify dominant modifiers of the GMR-upd phenotype. We have identified 9 regions that enhance this eye phenotype and two specific enhancers: C-terminal binding protein and Daughters against dpp. We also identified 20 regions that suppress GMR-upd and 13 specific suppressors: zeste-white 13, pineapple eye, Dichaete, histone 2A variant, headcase, plexus, kohtalo, crumbs, hedgehog, decapentaplegic, thickveins, saxophone, and Mothers against dpp.
Sulfation of all macromolecules entering the secretory pathway in higher organisms occurs in the Golgi and requires the high-energy sulfate donor adenosine 3'-phosphate 5'-phosphosulfate. Here we report the first molecular identification of a gene that encodes a transmembrane protein required to transport adenosine 3'-phosphate 5'-phosphosulfate from the cytosol into the Golgi lumen. Mutations in this gene, which we call slalom, display defects in Wg and Hh signaling, which are likely due to the lack of sulfation of glycosaminoglycans by the sulfotransferase sulfateless. Analysis of mosaic mutant ovaries shows that sll function is also essential for dorsal-ventral axis determination, suggesting that sll transports the sulfate donor required for sulfotransferase activity of the dorsal-ventral determinant pipe.
The formation of complex patterns in multi-cellular organisms is regulated by a number of signaling pathways. In particular, the Wnt and Hedgehog (Hh) pathways have been identified as critical organizers of pattern in many tissues. Although extensive biochemical and genetic studies have elucidated the central components of the signal transduction pathways regulated by these secreted molecules, we still do not understand fully how they organize gradients of gene activities through field of cells. Studies in Drosophila have implicated a role for heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) in regulating the signaling activities and distribution of both Wnt and Hh. Here we review these findings and discuss various models by which HSPGs regulate the distributions of Wnt and Hh morphogens.
The Hedgehog (Hh) family of signaling molecules are key agents in patterning numerous types of tissues. Mutations in Hh and its downstream signaling molecules are also associated with numerous oncogenic and disease states. Consequently, understanding the mechanisms by which Hh signals are transduced is important for understanding both development and disease. Recent studies have clarified several aspects of Hh signal transduction. Several new Sonic Hedgehog binding partners have been identified. Cholesterol and palmitic acid modifications of Hh and Sonic hedgehog have been examined in greater detail. Characterization of the trafficking patterns of the Patched and Smoothened proteins has demonstrated that these two proteins function very differently from the previously established models. The Fused kinase has been demonstrated to phosphorylate the kinesin-like protein Costal2 and the sites identified, while Cubitus interruptus has been shown to be phosphorylated in a hierarchical manner by three different kinases. Finally, the interactions, both genetic and physical, between Fused, Costal2, Cubitus interruptus, and Suppressor of Fused have been further elucidated.
Heparan sulphate proteoglycans (HSPG's) are cell surface proteins to which long, unbranched chains of modified sugars called heparan sulphate glycosaminoglycans have been covalently attached. Cell culture studies have demonstrated that HSPG's are required for optimal signal transduction by many secreted cell signaling molecules. Now, genetic studies in both Drosophila and vertebrates have illustrated that HSPG's play important roles in signal transduction in vivo and have also begun to reveal new roles for HSPG's in signaling events. In particular, HSPG's have been shown to be important in ligand sequestration of wingless, for the transport of the Hedgehog ligand, and for modulation of the Dpp morphogenetic gradient.
The JAK/STAT pathway was originally identified in mammals. Studies of this pathway in the mouse have revealed that JAK/STAT signaling plays a central role during hematopoeisis and other developmental processes. The role of JAK/STAT signaling in blood appears to be conserved throughout evolution, as it is also required during fly hematopoeisis. Studies in Dictyostelium, Drosophila, and zebrafish have shown that the JAK/STAT pathway is also required in an unusually broad set of developmental decisions, including cell proliferation, cell fate determination, cell migration, planar polarity, convergent extension, and immunity. There is increasing evidence that the versatility of this pathway relies on its cooperation with other signal transduction pathways. In this review, we discuss the components of the JAK/STAT pathway in model organisms and what is known about its requirement in cellular and developmental processes. In particular, we emphasize recent insights into the role that this pathway plays in the control of cell movement.
Epithelial morphogenesis comprises the various processes by which epithelia contribute to organ formation and body shape. These complex and diverse events play a central role in animal development and regeneration. Recently, the characterization of some of the molecular mechanisms involved in epithelial morphogenesis has provided an abundance of new information on the role and regulation of the cytoskeleton, cell-cell adhesion, and cell-matrix adhesion in these processes. In this review, we discuss our current understanding of the molecular mechanisms driving cell shape changes, cell intercalation, fusion of epithelia, ingression, egression, and cell migration. Our discussion is mostly focused on results from Drosophila and mammalian tissue culture but also draws on the insights gained from other organisms.
Wnt pathways are involved in the control of gene expression, cell behavior, cell adhesion, and cell polarity. In addition, they often operate in combination with other signaling pathways. The Wnt/beta-catenin pathway is the best studied of the Wnt pathways and is highly conserved through evolution. In this pathway, Wnt signaling inhibits the degradation of beta-catenin, which can regulate transcription of a number of genes. Some of the genes regulated are those associated with cancer and other diseases (for example, colorectal cancer and melanomas). As a result, components of the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway are promising targets in the search for therapeutic agents. Information about Wnt pathways is available both in canonical terms and at the species level. In addition to the canonical Wnt/beta-catenin pathway, information is now available for Drosophila, Caenorhabditis elegans, and Xenopus. The STKE Connections Maps for these pathways provide an important tool in accessing this large body of complex information.
Large-scale movements of epithelial sheets are necessary for most embryonic and regenerative morphogenetic events. We have characterized the cellular processes associated with germ band retraction (GBR) in the Drosophila embryo. During GBR, the caudal end of the embryo retracts to its final posterior position. We show using time-lapse recordings that, in contrast to germ band extension, cells within the lateral germ band do not intercalate. In addition, the germ band and amnioserosa move as one coherent sheet, and the amnioserosa strongly shortens along its dorsal-ventral axis. Furthermore, during GBR, the amnioserosa adheres to and migrates over the caudal end of the germ band via lamellipodia. Expression of both dominant-negative and constitutively active RhoA in the amnioserosa disrupts GBR. As RhoA acts on both actomyosin contractility and cell-matrix adhesion, it suggests a role for such processes in the amnioserosa during GBR. The results establish the cellular movements and shape changes occurring during GBR and provide the basis for an analysis of the forces acting during GBR.
We demonstrate that Drosophila capulet (capt), a homolog of the adenylyl cyclase-associated protein that binds and regulates actin in yeast, associates with Abl in Drosophila cells, suggesting a functional relationship in vivo. We find a robust and specific genetic interaction between capt and Abl at the midline choice point where the growth cone repellent Slit functions to restrict axon crossing. Genetic interactions between capt and slit support a model where Capt and Abl collaborate as part of the repellent response. Further support for this model is provided by genetic interactions that both capt and Abl display with multiple members of the Roundabout receptor family. These studies identify Capulet as part of an emerging pathway linking guidance signals to regulation of cytoskeletal dynamics and suggest that the Abl pathway mediates signals downstream of multiple Roundabout receptors.
We have analyzed the mechanism of activation of the Epidermal growth factor receptor (Egfr) by the transforming growth factor (TGF) alpha-like molecule, Gurken (Grk). Grk is expressed in the oocyte and activates the Egfr in the surrounding follicle cells during oogenesis. We show that expression of either a membrane bound form of Grk (mbGrk), or a secreted form of Grk (secGrk), in either the follicle cells or in the germline, activates the Egfr. In tissue culture cells, both forms can bind to the Egfr; however, only the soluble form can trigger Egfr signaling, which is consistent with the observed cleavage of Grk in vivo. We find that the two transmembrane proteins Star and Brho potentiate the activity of mbGrk. These two proteins collaborate to promote an activating proteolytic cleavage and release of Grk. After cleavage, the extracellular domain of Grk is secreted from the oocyte to activate the Egfr in the follicular epithelium.