Regulation of genes that initiate and amplify inflammatory programs of gene expression is achieved by signal-dependent exchange of co-regulator complexes that function to read, write and erase specific histone modifications linked to transcriptional activation or repression. Here, we provide evidence for the role of trimethylated histone H4 lysine 20 (H4K20me3) as a repression checkpoint that restricts expression of toll like receptor 4 (TLR4) target genes in macrophages. H4K20me3 is deposited at the promoters of a subset of these genes by the SMYD5 histone methyltransferase through its association with NCoR corepressor complexes. Signal-dependent erasure of H4K20me3 is required for effective gene activation and is achieved by NF-κB-dependent delivery of the histone demethylase PHF2. Liver X receptors antagonize TLR4-dependent gene activation by maintaining NCoR/SMYD5-mediated repression. These findings reveal a histone H4K20 tri-methylation/de-methylation strategy that integrates positive and negative signaling inputs that control immunity and homeostasis.
The evaluation of specific endogenous transcript levels is important for understanding transcriptional regulation. More specifically, it is useful for independent confirmation of results obtained by the use of microarray analysis or RNA-seq and for evaluating RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated gene knockdown. Designing specific and effective primers for high-quality, moderate-throughput evaluation of transcript levels, i.e., quantitative, real-time PCR (qPCR), is nontrivial. To meet community needs, predefined qPCR primer pairs for mammalian genes have been designed and sequences made available, e.g., via PrimerBank. In this work, we adapted and refined the algorithms used for the mammalian PrimerBank to design 45,417 primer pairs for 13,860 Drosophila melanogaster genes, with three or more primer pairs per gene. We experimentally validated primer pairs for ~300 randomly selected genes expressed in early Drosophila embryos, using SYBR Green-based qPCR and sequence analysis of products derived from conventional PCR. All relevant information, including primer sequences, isoform specificity, spatial transcript targeting, and any available validation results and/or user feedback, is available from an online database (www.flyrnai.org/flyprimerbank). At FlyPrimerBank, researchers can retrieve primer information for fly genes either one gene at a time or in batch mode. Importantly, we included the overlap of each predicted amplified sequence with RNAi reagents from several public resources, making it possible for researchers to choose primers suitable for knockdown evaluation of RNAi reagents (i.e., to avoid amplification of the RNAi reagent itself). We demonstrate the utility of this resource for validation of RNAi reagents in vivo.
Drosophila; real-time PCR; gene expression; RNAi; knockdown evaluation
Analysis of high-throughput data increasingly relies on pathway annotation and functional information derived from Gene Ontology. This approach has limitations, in particular for the analysis of network dynamics over time or under different experimental conditions, in which modules within a network rather than complete pathways might respond and change. We report an analysis framework based on protein complexes, which are at the core of network reorganization. We generated a protein complex resource for human, Drosophila, and yeast from the literature and databases of protein-protein interaction networks, with each species having thousands of complexes. We developed COMPLEAT (http://www.flyrnai.org/compleat), a tool for data mining and visualization for complex-based analysis of high-throughput data sets, as well as analysis and integration of heterogeneous proteomics and gene expression data sets. With COMPLEAT, we identified dynamically regulated protein complexes among genome-wide RNA interference data sets that used the abundance of phosphorylated extracellular signal–regulated kinase in cells stimulated with either insulin or epidermal growth factor as the output. The analysis predicted that the Brahma complex participated in the insulin response.
The core planar polarity proteins are required to specify the orientation of structures that are polarised in the plane of the epithelium. In the Drosophila melanogaster wing, the core proteins localise asymmetrically at either proximal or distal cell edges. Asymmetric localisation is thought to be biased by long-range cues, causing asymmetric complexes to become aligned with the tissue axes. Core proteins are then thought to participate in feedback interactions that are necessary to amplify asymmetry, and in order for such feedback interactions to operate correctly, the levels of the core proteins at junctions must be tightly regulated. We have investigated regulation of the core protein Prickle (Pk) in the pupal wing. The core protein Strabismus (Stbm) is required to recruit Pk into asymmetric complexes at proximal cell ends, and we report here that it also promotes proteasomal degradation of excess Pk, probably via a Cullin-1 dependent process. We also show for the first time that Pk is farnesylated in vivo, and this is essential for Pk function in the wing. Notably, farnesylation of Pk is necessary for it to be recruited into asymmetric complexes and function in feedback amplification, probably by reinforcing weak direct interactions between Stbm and Pk. Furthermore, farnesylation is also required for Stbm to promote proteasomal degradation of Pk. We propose that Stbm recruits farnesylated Pk into asymmetric complexes, but also promotes degradation of excess Pk that would otherwise perturb feedback amplification.
The core planar polarity proteins are responsible for polarising structures in the plane of epithelia. For example in the fly wing, the core proteins are required for cells to make hairs that point towards the distal end of the wing. The core proteins localise asymmetrically in wing cells, either at the distal cell end where the hair emerges or at the opposite cell edge. To establish this asymmetric localisation the core proteins must undergo feedback interactions with each other, and it is thought that for feedback to operate correctly, the amounts of the core proteins at junctions must be limiting. We show that the core protein Prickle is modified by a farnesyl lipid molecule. This modification is essential for it to associate with cell membranes where it can interact with another core protein, Strabismus. Interaction with Strabismus allows Prickle to participate in asymmetric complexes and feedback interactions, but Strabismus also causes degradation of excess Prickle. If Prickle doesn't interact with Strabismus, or if there is too much Prickle at cell membranes, asymmetric localisation of the other core proteins is compromised.
Here we report on the identification and functional characterization of the ADAMTS-like homolog lonely heart (loh) in Drosophila melanogaster. Loh displays all hallmarks of ADAMTSL proteins including several thrombospondin type 1 repeats (TSR1), and acts in concert with the collagen Pericardin (Prc). Loss of either loh or prc causes progressive cardiac damage peaking in the abolishment of heart function. We show that both proteins are integral components of the cardiac ECM mediating cellular adhesion between the cardiac tube and the pericardial cells. Loss of ECM integrity leads to an altered myo-fibrillar organization in cardiac cells massively influencing heart beat pattern. We show evidence that Loh acts as a secreted receptor for Prc and works as a crucial determinant to allow the formation of a cell and tissue specific ECM, while it does not influence the accumulation of other matrix proteins like Nidogen or Perlecan. Our findings demonstrate that the function of ADAMTS-like proteins is conserved throughout evolution and reveal a previously unknown interaction of these proteins with collagens.
Cellular adhesion and tissue integrity in multicellular organisms strongly depend on the molecular network of the extracellular matrix (ECM). The number, topology and function of ECM molecules are highly diverse in different species, or even in single matrices in one organism. In our study we focus on the protein class of ADAMTS-like proteins. We identified Lonely heart (Loh) a member of this protein family and describe its function using the cardiac system of Drosophila melanogaster as model. Loh constitutes a secreted protein that resides in the ECM of heart cells and mediates the adhesion between different cell types - the pericadial cells and the cardiomyocytes. Lack of Loh function induces the dissociation of these cells and consequently leads to a breakdown of heart function. We found evidence that the major function of Loh is to recruit the collagen Pericardin (Prc) to the ECM of the cells and allow the proper organization of Prc into a reticular matrix. Since the function of Loh homologous proteins in other systems is rather elusive, this work provides new important insights into the biology of cell adhesion, matrix formation and indicates that ADAMTS-like proteins might facilitate an evolutionary conserved function.
Changes in fat content have been associated with dietary restriction (DR), but whether they play a causal role in mediating various responses to DR remains unknown. We demonstrate that upon DR, Drosophila melanogaster shift their metabolism towards increasing both fatty acid synthesis and breakdown, which is required for various responses to DR. Inhibition of fatty acid synthesis or oxidation genes specifically in the muscle tissue inhibited lifespan extension upon DR. Furthermore, DR enhances spontaneous activity of flies which was found to be dependent on the enhanced fatty acid metabolism. This increase in activity was found to be at least partially required for the lifespan extension upon DR. Over-expression of adipokinetic hormone (dAKH), the functional ortholog of glucagon, enhances fat metabolism, spontaneous activity and lifespan. Together, these results suggest that enhanced fat metabolism in the muscle and physical activity play a key role in the protective effects of DR.
The Notch signaling pathway controls a large number of processes during animal development and adult homeostasis. One of the conserved post-translational modifications of the Notch receptors is the addition of an O-linked glucose to epidermal growth factor-like (EGF) repeats with a C-X-S-X-(P/A)-C motif by Protein O-glucosyltransferase 1 (POGLUT1; Rumi in Drosophila). Genetic experiments in flies and mice, and in vivo structure-function analysis in flies indicate that O-glucose residues promote Notch signaling. The O-glucose residues on mammalian Notch1 and Notch2 proteins are efficiently extended by the addition of one or two xylose residues through the function of specific mammalian xylosyltransferases. However, the contribution of xylosylation to Notch signaling is not known. Here, we identify the Drosophila enzyme Shams responsible for the addition of xylose to O-glucose on EGF repeats. Surprisingly, loss- and gain-of-function experiments strongly suggest that xylose negatively regulates Notch signaling, opposite to the role played by glucose residues. Mass spectrometric analysis of Drosophila Notch indicates that addition of xylose to O-glucosylated Notch EGF repeats is limited to EGF14–20. A Notch transgene with mutations in the O-glucosylation sites of Notch EGF16–20 recapitulates the shams loss-of-function phenotypes, and suppresses the phenotypes caused by the overexpression of human xylosyltransferases. Antibody staining in animals with decreased Notch xylosylation indicates that xylose residues on EGF16–20 negatively regulate the surface expression of the Notch receptor. Our studies uncover a specific role for xylose in the regulation of the Drosophila Notch signaling, and suggest a previously unrecognized regulatory role for EGF16–20 of Notch.
In multi-cellular organisms, neighboring cells need to communicate with each other to ensure proper cell fate decisions and differentiation. Signaling through the Notch receptors is the primary means by which local cell-cell communication is accomplished in animals. Given the broad usage of Notch signaling in animals and the host of human disease caused by Notch pathway misregulation, sophisticated mechanisms are required to adjust the strength of Notch signaling in each context. We have previously shown that addition of glucose residues to the Notch receptor promotes Notch signaling. Since these glucose residues on Notch can be extended by addition of xylose residues, we sought to determine whether xylose also plays a role in the regulation of Notch signaling. In contrast to glucose, we determine that xylose residues decrease Notch signaling in certain contexts by controlling Notch surface levels. Moreover, the xylose residues reside in a specific domain of Notch, unlike the glucose residues which are distributed throughout the Notch extracellular domain. Our data provide an example of signaling pathway regulation by altering the distribution of the short or elongated forms of a saccharide on a receptor protein, and offer a potential avenue for modulating Notch signaling as both a therapeutic modality and a tool in regenerative medicine.
All organisms have developed mechanisms to respond to organ or tissue damage that may appear during development or during the adult life. This process of regeneration is a major long-standing problem in Developmental Biology. We are using the Drosophila melanogaster wing imaginal disc to study the response to major damage inflicted during development. Using the Gal4/UAS/Gal80TS conditional system, we have induced massive cell killing by forcing activity of the pro-apoptotic gene hid in two major regions of the disc as defined by Gal4 inserts in the genes rotund (rn) and spalt (sal). The procedure ensures that at the end of a 40–48 hrs of ablation period the great majority of the cells of the original Rn or Sal domains have been eliminated. The results indicate that the damage provokes an immediate response aimed to keep the integrity of the epithelium and to repair the region under ablation. This includes an increase in cell proliferation to compensate for the cell loss and the replacement of the dead cells by others from outside of the damaged area. The response is almost contemporaneous with the damage, so that at the end of the ablation period the targeted region is already reconstructed. We find that the proliferative response is largely systemic, as the number of cells in division increases all over the disc. Furthermore, our results indicate that the Dpp and Wg pathways are not specifically involved in the regenerative response, but that activity of the JNK pathway is necessary both inside and outside the ablated domain for its reconstruction.
The study of how organs or tissues regenerate after damage is a classic topic in Developmental Biology. We are studying this process in the developing wing imaginal disc of Drosophila melanogaster, using genetic methods to inflict massive damage in the region destined to form the wing blade. We find that the lesion provokes a very strong and rapid reaction in the remaining disc aimed to reconstruct the lost tissue, both in size and in shape. The response includes an increase of cell proliferation to compensate for the loss of cells and the immigration of cells from neighbouring areas to replace the dead ones. The immigrant cells change their original identity and acquire that of the cells they are replacing. We propose that these experiments reveal the existence of a powerful homeostatic mechanism that is able to cure massive injuries that may appear during development.
The fruit fly Drosophila has contributed significantly to our general understanding of the basic principles of signaling, cell and developmental biology, and neurobiology. However, answers to questions pertaining to energy metabolism have been so far mostly addressed in more complex model organisms such as mice. We review in this article recent studies that show how the genetic tractability and simplicity of Drosophila are being used to identify novel regulatory mechanisms at the organismal level, and to query the co-ordination between energy metabolism and other processes such as neurodegeneration, circadian rhythms, immunity, and tumor biology.
In Drosophila the fat body (FB), a functional analog of the vertebrate adipose tissue, is the 'nutrient sensor' that conveys the nutrient status to the insulin producing cells (IPCs) in the fly brain to release insulin-like peptides (Dilps). Dilp secretion in turn regulates energy balance and promotes systemic growth. We identify Unpaired2 (Upd2), a protein with similarities to type I cytokines, as a secreted factor produced by the FB in the ‘fed’ state. When upd2 function is perturbed specifically in the FB, it results in a systemic reduction in growth and alters energy metabolism. Upd2 activates JAK/STAT signaling in a population of GABAergic neurons that project onto the IPCs. This activation relieves the inhibitory tone of the GABAergic neurons on the IPCs, resulting in the secretion of Dilps. Strikingly, we find that human Leptin, can rescue the upd2 mutant phenotypes, suggesting that Upd2 is the functional homolog of Leptin.
Phosphate is required for many important cellular processes and having too little phosphate or too much can cause disease and reduce life span in humans. However, the mechanisms underlying homeostatic control of extracellular phosphate levels and cellular effects of phosphate are poorly understood. Here, we establish Drosophila melanogaster as a model system for the study of phosphate effects. We found that Drosophila larval development depends on the availability of phosphate in the medium. Conversely, life span is reduced when adult flies are cultured on high phosphate medium or when hemolymph phosphate is increased in flies with impaired Malpighian tubules. In addition, RNAi-mediated inhibition of MAPK-signaling by knockdown of Ras85D, phl/D-Raf or Dsor1/MEK affects larval development, adult life span and hemolymph phosphate, suggesting that some in vivo effects involve activation of this signaling pathway by phosphate. To identify novel genetic determinants of phosphate responses, we used Drosophila hemocyte-like cultured cells (S2R+) to perform a genome-wide RNAi screen using MAPK activation as the readout. We identified a number of candidate genes potentially important for the cellular response to phosphate. Evaluation of 51 genes in live flies revealed some that affect larval development, adult life span and hemolymph phosphate levels.
RNA interference (RNAi) leads to sequence-specific knockdown of gene function. The approach can be used in large-scale screens to interrogate function in various model organisms and an increasing number of other species. Genome-scale RNAi screens are routinely performed in cultured or primary cells or in vivo in organisms such as C. elegans. High-throughput RNAi screening is benefitting from the development of sophisticated new instrumentation and software tools for collecting and analyzing data, including high-content image data. The results of large-scale RNAi screens have already proved useful, leading to new understandings of gene function relevant to topics such as infection, cancer, obesity and aging. Nevertheless, important caveats apply and should be taken into consideration when developing or interpreting RNAi screens. Some level of false discovery is inherent to high-throughput approaches and specific to RNAi screens, false discovery due to off-target effects (OTEs) of RNAi reagents remains a problem. The need to improve our ability to use RNAi to elucidate gene function at large scale and in additional systems continues to be addressed through improved RNAi library design, development of innovative computational and analysis tools and other approaches.
RNAi; high-throughput screens; high-content imaging; cell-based assays
RNA interference (RNAi) is an effective tool for genome-scale, high-throughput analysis of gene function. In the past five years, a number of genome-scale RNAi high-throughput screens (HTSs) have been done in both Drosophila and mammalian cultured cells to study diverse biological processes, including signal transduction, cancer biology, and host cell responses to infection. Results from these screens have led to the identification of new components of these processes and, importantly, have also provided insights into the complexity of biological systems, forcing new and innovative approaches to understanding functional networks in cells. Here, we review the main findings that have emerged from RNAi HTS and discuss technical issues that remain to be improved, in particular the verification of RNAi results and validation of their biological relevance. Furthermore, we discuss the importance of multiplexed and integrated experimental data analysis pipelines to RNAi HTS.
bioinformatics; cell biology; Drosophila; high-throughput screening
Originally identified as a response to starvation in yeast, autophagy is now understood to fulfill a variety of roles in higher eukaryotes, from the maintenance of cellular homeostasis to the cellular response to stress, starvation, and infection. Although genetics and biochemical studies in yeast have identified many components involved in autophagy, the findings that some of the essential components of the yeast pathway are missing in higher organisms underscore the need to study autophagy in more complex systems. This review focuses on the use of the fruitfly, Drosophila melanogaster as a model system for analysis of autophagy. Drosophila is an organism well-suited for genetic analysis and represents an intermediate between yeast and mammals with respect to conservation of the autophagy machinery. Furthermore, the complex biology and physiology of Drosophila presents an opportunity to model human diseases in a tissue specific and analogous context.
Drosophila; Autophagy; Atg; Model system
Current studies of physiological communication between Drosophila organs are beginning to address the fundamental problem of how nutrients regulate organismal growth, stem cell behavior, immunity, and aging. Advances in the Drosophila genetic tool kit will allow the design of genetic screens to systematically identify factors involved in organ communication.
Systems biology aims to describe the complex interplays between cellular building blocks which, in their concurrence, give rise to the emergent properties observed in cellular behaviors and responses. This approach tries to determine the molecular players and the architectural principles of their interactions within the genetic networks that control certain biological processes. Large-scale loss-of-function screens, applicable in various different model systems, have begun to systematically interrogate entire genomes to identify the genes that contribute to a certain cellular response. In particular, RNA interference (RNAi)-based high-throughput screens have been instrumental in determining the composition of regulatory systems and paired with integrative data analyses have begun to delineate the genetic networks that control cell biological and developmental processes. Through the creation of tools for both, in vitro and in vivo genome-wide RNAi screens, Drosophila melanogaster has emerged as one of the key model organisms in systems biology research and over the last years has massively contributed to and hence shaped this discipline.
Signaling proteins often form dynamic protein-protein interaction (PPI) complexes to achieve multi-functionality. Methods to abrogate a subset of PPI interfaces without depleting the full-length protein will be valuable for structure-function relationship annotations. Here, we describe the use of Peptide Aptamer Interference (PAPTi) approach for structure-function network studies. We identified peptide aptamers against Dishevelled (Dsh) and β-catenin (β-cat) to target the Wnt signaling pathway and demonstrate that these FN3-based MONOBODYs (FNDYs) can be used to perturb protein activities both in vitro and in vivo. Further, to investigate the crosstalk between the Wnt and Notch pathways, we isolated FNDYs against the Notch Ankyrin (ANK) region and demonstrate that perturbing the ANK domain of Notch increases the inhibitory activity of Notch towards Wnt signaling. Altogether, these studies demonstrate the power of the PAPTi approach to dissect specific PPI interactions within signaling networks.
Cytoplasmic Polyadenylation Element Binding (CPEB) proteins are translational regulators that can either activate or repress translation depending on the target mRNA and the specific biological context. There are two CPEB subfamilies and most animals have one or more genes from each. Drosophila has a single CPEB gene, orb and orb2, from each subfamily. orb expression is only detected at high levels in the germline and has critical functions in oogenesis but not spermatogenesis. By contrast, orb2 is broadly expressed in the soma; and previous studies have revealed important functions in asymmetric cell division, viability, motor function, learning, and memory. Here we show that orb2 is also expressed in the adult male germline and that it has essential functions in programming the progression of spermatogenesis from meiosis through differentiation. Like the translational regulators boule (bol) and off-schedule (ofs), orb2 is required for meiosis and orb2 mutant spermatocytes undergo a prolonged arrest during the meiotic G2-M transition. However, orb2 differs from boule and off-schedule in that this arrest occurs at a later step in meiotic progression after the synthesis of the meiotic regulator twine. orb2 is also required for the orderly differentiation of the spermatids after meiosis is complete. The differentiation defects in orb2 mutants include abnormal elongation of the spermatid flagellar axonemes, a failure in individualization and improper post-meiotic gene expression. Amongst the orb2 differentiation targets are orb and two other mRNAs, which are transcribed post-meiotically and localized to the tip of the flagellar axonemes. Additionally, analysis of a partial loss of function orb2 mutant suggests that the orb2 differentiation phenotypes are independent of the earlier arrest in meiosis.
Cytoplasmic Polyadenylation Element Binding (CPEB) proteins bind and recognize CPE sequences in the 3′ UTRs of target mRNAs and can activate and/or repress their translation depending on the mRNA species and the biological context. Drosophila has two CPEB family genes, orb and orb2. orb is expressed in the germline of both sexes and has critical functions at multiple steps during oogenesis; however, it plays only a limited role in spermatogenesis. Here we show that the second CPEB family gene orb2 has the opposite sex specificity in germline development. While it appears to be dispensable for oogenesis, orb2 has essential functions during spermatogenesis. It is required for programming the orderly and sequential progression of spermatogenesis from meiosis through differentiation. orb2 mutants fail to execute the meiotic G2-M transition and exhibit a range of defects in the process of sperm differentiation.
A Drosophila transgenic RNAi screen targeting the glycan genome, including all N/O/GAG-glycan biosynthesis/modification enzymes and glycan-binding lectins, was conducted to discover novel glycan functions in synaptogenesis. As proof-of-product, we characterized functionally paired heparan sulfate (HS) 6-O-sulfotransferase (hs6st) and sulfatase (sulf1), which bidirectionally control HS proteoglycan (HSPG) sulfation. RNAi knockdown of hs6st and sulf1 causes opposite effects on functional synapse development, with decreased (hs6st) and increased (sulf1) neurotransmission strength confirmed in null mutants. HSPG co-receptors for WNT and BMP intercellular signaling, Dally-like Protein and Syndecan, are differentially misregulated in the synaptomatrix of these mutants. Consistently, hs6st and sulf1 nulls differentially elevate both WNT (Wingless; Wg) and BMP (Glass Bottom Boat; Gbb) ligand abundance in the synaptomatrix. Anterograde Wg signaling via Wg receptor dFrizzled2 C-terminus nuclear import and retrograde Gbb signaling via synaptic MAD phosphorylation and nuclear import are differentially activated in hs6st and sulf1 mutants. Consequently, transcriptional control of presynaptic glutamate release machinery and postsynaptic glutamate receptors is bidirectionally altered in hs6st and sulf1 mutants, explaining the bidirectional change in synaptic functional strength. Genetic correction of the altered WNT/BMP signaling restores normal synaptic development in both mutant conditions, proving that altered trans-synaptic signaling causes functional differentiation defects.
Glycans are sugar additions to proteins. Surrounding all eukaryotic cells, secreted and membrane glycans form a glycocalyx that regulates cell–cell signaling. However, the mechanisms controlling glycan-dependent intercellular communication are largely unknown. In the nervous system, glycans play important roles in the development and regulation of synapses mediating intercellular communication. The Drosophila neuromuscular junction serves as a genetically tractable synapse in which expression of glycan-related genes can be systematically knocked down to investigate effects on synaptic morphology and function. This study employs a transgenic RNAi screen to characterize the synaptic requirements of 130 glycan-related genes. From this screen, two functionally paired genes (hs6st and sulf1) that add or remove a sulfate at the 6-O position on heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) were identified as being critically important for synaptic functional development. Removal of each gene produces an opposite effect on neurotransmission strength, weakening and strengthening communication, respectively. This mechanism controls the synaptic expression of two HSPGs, which act as co-receptors to control the abundance of anterograde WNT and retrograde BMP signals, which drive intracellular signal transduction pathways regulating gene transcription to control synaptic functional development. This screen serves as a platform for systematic investigation of glycan mechanisms regulating synaptic development.
For nearly 150 years, it has been recognized that cell shape strongly influences the orientation of the mitotic cleavage plane (e.g. Hofmeister, 1863). However, we still understand little about the complex interplay between cell shape and cleavage plane orientation in epithelia, where polygonal cell geometries emerge from multiple factors, including cell packing, cell growth, and cell division itself. Here, using mechanical simulations, we show that the polygonal shapes of individual cells can systematically bias the long axis orientations of their adjacent mitotic neighbors. Strikingly, analysis of both animal epithelia and plant epidermis confirm a robust and nearly identical correlation between local cell topology and cleavage plane orientation in vivo. Using simple mathematics, we show that this effect derives from fundamental packing constraints. Our results suggest that local epithelial topology is a key determinant of cleavage plane orientation, and that cleavage plane bias may be a widespread property of polygonal cell sheets in plants and animals.
The DNA damage checkpoint, the first pathway known to be activated in response to DNA damage, is a mechanism by which the cell cycle is temporarily arrested to allow DNA repair. The checkpoint pathway transmits signals from the sites of DNA damage to the cell cycle machinery through the evolutionarily conserved ATM (ataxia telangiectasia mutated) and ATR (ATM- and Rad3-related) kinase cascades. We conducted a genome-wide RNAi (RNA interference) screen in Drosophila cells to identify previously unknown genes and pathways required for the G2-M checkpoint induced by DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). Our large-scale analysis provided a systems-level view of the G2-M checkpoint and revealed the coordinated actions of particular classes of proteins, which include those involved in DNA repair, DNA replication, cell cycle control, chromatin regulation, and RNA processing. Further, from the screen and in vivo analysis, we identified previously unrecognized roles of two DNA damage response genes, mus101 and mus312. Our results suggest that the DNA replication preinitiation complex, which includes MUS101, and the MUS312-containing nuclease complexes, which are important for DSB repair, also function in the G2-M checkpoint. Our results provide insight into the diverse mechanisms that link DNA damage and the checkpoint signaling pathway.
Existing transgenic RNAi resources in Drosophila melanogaster based on long double-stranded hairpin RNAs are powerful tools for functional studies, but they are ineffective in gene knockdown during oogenesis, an important model system for the study of many biological questions. We show that shRNAs, modeled on an endogenous microRNA, are extremely effective at silencing gene expression during oogenesis. We also describe our progress toward building a genome-wide shRNA resource.
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.
An important step in epithelial organ development is size maturation of the organ lumen to attain correct dimensions. Here we show that the regulated expression of Tenectin (Tnc) is critical to shape the Drosophila melanogaster hindgut tube. Tnc is a secreted protein that fills the embryonic hindgut lumen during tube diameter expansion. Inside the lumen, Tnc contributes to detectable O-Glycans and forms a dense striated matrix. Loss of tnc causes a narrow hindgut tube, while Tnc over-expression drives tube dilation in a dose-dependent manner. Cellular analyses show that luminal accumulation of Tnc causes an increase in inner and outer tube diameter, and cell flattening within the tube wall, similar to the effects of a hydrostatic pressure in other systems. When Tnc expression is induced only in cells at one side of the tube wall, Tnc fills the lumen and equally affects all cells at the lumen perimeter, arguing that Tnc acts non-cell-autonomously. Moreover, when Tnc expression is directed to a segment of a tube, its luminal accumulation is restricted to this segment and affects the surrounding cells to promote a corresponding local diameter expansion. These findings suggest that deposition of Tnc into the lumen might contribute to expansion of the lumen volume, and thereby to stretching of the tube wall. Consistent with such an idea, ectopic expression of Tnc in different developing epithelial tubes is sufficient to cause dilation, while epidermal Tnc expression has no effect on morphology. Together, the results show that epithelial tube diameter can be modelled by regulating the levels and pattern of expression of a single luminal glycoprotein.
Epithelial tubes constitute the functional units of vital organs, and they undergo highly regulated changes in size and shape during development to accommodate the three-dimensional configurations optimal for organ physiology. Through studies of Drosophila melanogaster, we show that epithelial tube diameter can be modelled simply by regulating the levels and pattern of expression of a single glycoprotein. The protein is secreted into the tubular lumen, where it forms a dense matrix and acts in a dose-dependent manner to drive diameter growth. We suggest that deposition of the protein into the lumen promotes local expansion of the lumen volume, and thereby stretching of the surrounding tube wall. Such a mechanism could represent a general means to adjust tube diameter during epithelial organ development.
RNA interference (RNAi) provides a powerful reverse genetics approach to analyze gene functions both in tissue culture and in vivo. Because of its widespread applicability and effectiveness it has become an essential part of the tool box kits of model organisms such as Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila, and the mouse. In addition, the use of RNAi in animals in which genetic tools are either poorly developed or nonexistent enables a myriad of fundamental questions to be asked. Here, we review the methods and applications of in vivo RNAi to characterize gene functions in model organisms and discuss their impact to the study of developmental as well as evolutionary questions. Further, we discuss the applications of RNAi technologies to crop improvement, pest control and RNAi therapeutics, thus providing an appreciation of the potential for phenomenal applications of RNAi to agriculture and medicine.
In vivo RNAi technology is replacing classical genetics in screens and conditional targeting of gene function. It also has applications in crop improvement, pest control, and medicine.