Glass promotes the differentiation of neuronal and non-neuronal cell types in the Drosophila eye
Transcriptional regulators can specify different cell types from a pool of equivalent progenitors by activating distinct developmental programs. The Glass transcription factor is expressed in all progenitors in the developing Drosophila eye, and is maintained in both neuronal and non-neuronal cell types. Glass is required for neuronal progenitors to differentiate as photoreceptors, but its role in non-neuronal cone and pigment cells is unknown. To determine whether Glass activity is limited to neuronal lineages, we compared the effects of misexpressing it in neuroblasts of the larval brain and in epithelial cells of the wing disc. Glass activated overlapping but distinct sets of genes in these neuronal and non-neuronal contexts, including markers of photoreceptors, cone cells and pigment cells. Coexpression of other transcription factors such as Pax2, Eyes absent, Lozenge and Escargot enabled Glass to induce additional genes characteristic of the non-neuronal cell types. Cell type-specific glass mutations generated in cone or pigment cells using somatic CRISPR revealed autonomous developmental defects, and expressing Glass specifically in these cells partially rescued glass mutant phenotypes. These results indicate that Glass is a determinant of organ identity that acts in both neuronal and non-neuronal cells to promote their differentiation into functional components of the eye.
COP9 signalosome subunits protect Capicua from MAP kinase-dependent and independent mechanisms of degradation
The COP9 signalosome removes Nedd8 modifications from the Cullin subunits of ubiquitin ligase complexes, reducing their activity. Here we show that mutations in the Drosophila COP9 signalosome subunit 1b (CSN1b) gene increase the activity of ubiquitin ligases that contain Cullin 1. Analysis of CSN1b mutant phenotypes revealed a requirement for the COP9 signalosome to prevent ectopic expression of Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) target genes. It does so by protecting Capicua, a transcriptional repressor of EGFR target genes, from EGFR pathway-dependent ubiquitination by a Cullin 1/SKP1-related A/Archipelago E3 ligase and subsequent proteasomal degradation. The CSN1b subunit also maintains basal Capicua levels by protecting it from a separate mechanism of degradation that is independent of EGFR signaling. As a suppressor of tumor growth and metastasis, Capicua may be an important target of the COP9 signalosome in cancer.
Drosophila Vps4 promotes Epidermal growth factor receptor signaling independently of its role in receptor degradation
Endocytic trafficking of signaling receptors is an important mechanism for limiting signal duration. Components of the Endosomal Sorting Complexes Required for Transport (ESCRT), which target ubiquitylated receptors to intra-lumenal vesicles (ILVs) of multivesicular bodies, are thought to terminate signaling by the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and direct it for lysosomal degradation. In a genetic screen for mutations that affect Drosophila eye development, we identified an allele of Vacuolar protein sorting 4 (Vps4), which encodes an AAA ATPase that interacts with the ESCRT-III complex to drive the final step of ILV formation. Photoreceptors are largely absent from Vps4 mutant clones in the eye disc, and even when cell death is genetically prevented, the mutant R8 photoreceptors that develop fail to recruit surrounding cells to differentiate as R1-R7 photoreceptors. This recruitment requires EGFR signaling, suggesting that loss of Vps4 disrupts the EGFR pathway. In imaginal disc cells mutant for Vps4, EGFR and other receptors accumulate in endosomes and EGFR target genes are not expressed; epistasis experiments place the function of Vps4 at the level of the receptor. Surprisingly, Vps4 is required for EGFR signaling even in the absence of Shibire, the Dynamin that internalizes EGFR from the plasma membrane. In ovarian follicle cells, in contrast, Vps4 does not affect EGFR signaling, although it is still essential for receptor degradation. Taken together, these findings indicate that Vps4 can promote EGFR activity through an endocytosis-independent mechanism.
The exon junction complex controls transposable element activity by ensuring faithful splicing of the piwi transcript
The exon junction complex (EJC) is a highly conserved ribonucleoprotein complex that binds RNAs during splicing and remains associated with them following export to the cytoplasm. While the role of this complex in mRNA localization, translation, and degradation has been well characterized, its mechanism of action in splicing a subset of Drosophila and human transcripts remains to be elucidated. Here, we describe a novel function for the EJC and its splicing subunit, RnpS1, in preventing transposon accumulation in both Drosophila germline and surrounding somatic follicle cells. This function is mediated specifically through the control of piwi transcript splicing, where, in the absence of RnpS1, the fourth intron of piwi is retained. This intron contains a weak polypyrimidine tract that is sufficient to confer dependence on RnpS1. Finally, we demonstrate that RnpS1-dependent removal of this intron requires splicing of the flanking introns, suggesting a model in which the EJC facilitates the splicing of weak introns following its initial deposition at adjacent exon junctions. These data demonstrate a novel role for the EJC in regulating piwi intron excision and provide a mechanism for its function during splicing.
The Metazoan-Specific Mediator Subunit 26 (Med26) Is Essential For Viability And Is Found At Both Active Genes And Pericentric Heterochromatin In Drosophila
Human Med26 was originally purified in the Cofactor Required for Sp1 Activation complex (CRSP) as a 70 kilodalton component named CRSP70. This polypeptide was specific to metazoans and the "small" form of the Mediator complex. We report here that a Drosophila homologue of Med26 similarly interacts with other components of the core Drosophila Mediator complex but not with the kinase module, and is recruited to genes upon activation. Using a null allele of Med26, we show that Med26 is required for organismal viability but not for cell proliferation or survival. Clones lacking Med26 in the wing disc lead to loss of the adult wing margin and reduced expression of genes involved in wing margin formation. Surprisingly, when polytene chromosomes from the salivary gland were examined using antibodies to Med26, it was apparent that a fraction of the protein is associated with the chromocenter, which contains pericentric heterochromatin. This staining co-localizes with heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1). Immunoprecipitation experiments show that Med26 interacts with HP1. The interaction is mediated through the chromoshadow domain of HP1 and through the conserved motif in the carboxy-terminus of the Med26 protein. This work is the first characterization of the metazoan-specific Mediator subunit in an animal model.
Trafficking of the EGFR ligand Spitz regulates ITS signaling ACTIVITY in polarized tissues
EGFR ligands undergo complex processing during their maturation to active signaling proteins. Like its mammalian homologues, the predominant Drosophila EGFR ligand Spitz is produced as a transmembrane pro-protein. In the secretory pathway, Spitz is cleaved within its transmembrane domain to release the extracellular signaling domain. This domain is modified with an N-terminal palmitate group that tethers it to the plasma membrane. We found that the pro-protein can reach the cell surface in the absence of proteolysis, but it fails to activate the EGFR. To address why the transmembrane pro-protein is inactive, while membrane association through the palmitate group promotes activity, we generated a panel of chimeric constructs containing the Spitz extracellular region fused to exogenous transmembrane proteins. Although the orientation of the EGF domain and its distance from the plasma membrane varies in these chimeras, they are all active in vivo. Thus, tethering Spitz to the membrane via a transmembrane domain at either terminus does not prevent activity. Conversely, removing the N-terminal palmitate group from the C-terminally tethered pro-protein does not render it active. Furthermore, we show that the Spitz transmembrane pro-protein can activate the EGFR in a tissue culture assay, indicating that its failure to signal in vivo is not due to structural features. In polarized imaginal disc cells, unprocessed Spitz pro-protein localizes to apical puncta, whereas the active chimeric Spitz constructs are basolaterally localized. Together, our data support the model that localized trafficking of the pro-protein restricts its ability to activate the receptor in polarized tissues.
Retinal differentiation in Drosophila
Drosophila eye development has been extensively studied, due to the ease of genetic screens for mutations disrupting this process. The eye imaginal disc is specified during embryonic and larval development by the Pax6 homolog Eyeless and a network of downstream transcription factors. Expression of these factors is regulated by signaling molecules and also indirectly by growth of the eye disc. Differentiation of photoreceptor clusters initiates in the third larval instar at the posterior of the eye disc and progresses anteriorly, driven by the secreted protein Hedgehog. Within each cluster, the combined activities of Hedgehog signaling and Notch-mediated lateral inhibition induce and refine the expression of the transcription factor Atonal, which specifies the founding R8 photoreceptor of each ommatidium. Seven additional photoreceptors, followed by cone and pigment cells, are successively recruited by the signaling molecules Spitz, Delta, and Bride of sevenless. Combinations of these signals and of intrinsic transcription factors give each ommatidial cell its specific identity. During the pupal stages, rhodopsins are expressed, and the photoreceptors and accessory cells take on their final positions and morphologies to form the adult retina. Over the past few decades, the genetic analysis of this small number of cell types arranged in a repetitive structure has allowed a remarkably detailed understanding of the basic mechanisms controlling cell differentiation and morphological rearrangement. WIREs Dev Biol 2012, 2:545-557. doi: 10.1002/wdev.100 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.
A screen for x-linked mutations affecting Drosophila photoreceptor differentiation identifies casein kinase 1alpha as an essential negative regulator of wingless signaling
The Wnt and Hedgehog signaling pathways are essential for normal development and are misregulated in cancer. The casein kinase family of serine/threonine kinases regulates both pathways at multiple levels. However, it has been difficult to determine whether individual members of this family have distinct functions in vivo, due to their overlapping substrate specificities. In Drosophila melanogaster, photoreceptor differentiation is induced by Hedgehog and inhibited by Wingless, providing a sensitive system in which to identify regulators of each pathway. We used a mosaic genetic screen in the Drosophila eye to identify mutations in genes on the X chromosome required for signal transduction. We recovered mutations affecting the transcriptional regulator CREB binding protein, the small GTPase dynamin, the cytoskeletal regulator Actin-related protein 2, and the protein kinase Casein kinase 1alpha. Consistent with its reported function in the beta-Catenin degradation complex, Casein Kinase 1alpha mutant cells accumulate beta-Catenin and ectopically induce Wingless target genes. In contrast to previous studies based on RNA interference, we could not detect any effect of the same Casein Kinase 1alpha mutation on Hedgehog signaling. We thus propose that Casein kinase 1alpha is essential to allow beta-Catenin degradation and prevent inappropriate Wingless signaling, but its effects on the Hedgehog pathway are redundant with other Casein kinase 1 family members.
Requirements for mediator complex subunits distinguish three classes of notch target genes at the Drosophila wing margin
Spatial and temporal gene regulation relies on a combinatorial code of sequence-specific transcription factors that must be integrated by the general transcriptional machinery. A key link between the two is the mediator complex, which consists of a core complex that reversibly associates with the accessory kinase module. We show here that genes activated by Notch signaling at the dorsal-ventral boundary of the Drosophila wing disc fall into three classes that are affected differently by the loss of kinase module subunits. One class requires all four kinase module subunits for activation, while the others require only Med12 and Med13, either for activation or for repression. These distinctions do not result from different requirements for the Notch coactivator Mastermind or the corepressors Hairless and Groucho. We propose that interactions with the kinase module through distinct cofactors allow the DNA-binding protein Suppressor of Hairless to carry out both its activator and repressor functions. Developmental Dynamics, 2011. (c) 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc
Not just the messenger: RNA takes control [Editorial]