We present a resource of high quality lists of functionally related Drosophila genes, e.g. based on protein domains (kinases, transcription factors, etc.) or cellular function (e.g. autophagy, signal transduction). To establish these lists, we relied on different inputs, including curation from databases or the literature and mapping from other species. Moreover, as an added curation and quality control step, we asked experts in relevant fields to review many of the lists. The resource is available online for scientists to search and view, and is editable based on community input. Annotation of gene groups is an ongoing effort and scientific need will typically drive decisions regarding which gene lists to pursue. We anticipate that the number of lists will increase over time; that the composition of some lists will grow and/or change over time as new information becomes available; and that the lists will benefit the scientific community, e.g. at experimental design and data analysis stages. Based on this, we present an easily updatable online database, available at www.flyrnai.org/glad, at which gene group lists can be viewed, searched and downloaded.
GLAD; Drosophila; genes
In Drosophila cells, RNA interference (RNAi) can be triggered by synthetic long double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs). For many Drosophila cell lines and cell types, passive dsRNA uptake is inefficient. More complete silencing responses can often be obtained in Drosophila S2 cells using transfection, perhaps because higher levels of intracellular dsRNA are achieved. In this protocol, S2 cells are transfected with dsRNA using QIAGEN’s Effectene reagent, which has proven to be reliable for many investigators. A plasmid DNA can also be included in the transfection mix to provide additional functionality. The plasmid DNA can encode, for example, a reporter of the activity of a pathway or specific transcription factor, or a marker that allows visualization of some cellular behavior or structure. It is also useful to include a plasmid that encodes a fluorescent protein simply to monitor transfection efficiency.
Tyrosine phosphorylation plays a significant role in a wide range of cellular processes. The Drosophila genome encodes more than 20 receptor tyrosine kinases and extensive studies in the past 20 years have illustrated their diverse roles and complex signaling mechanisms. Although some receptor tyrosine kinases have highly specific functions, others strikingly are used in rather ubiquitous manners. Receptor tyrosine kinases regulate a broad expanse of processes, ranging from cell survival and proliferation to differentiation and patterning. Remarkably, different receptor tyrosine kinases share many of the same effectors and their hierarchical organization is retained in disparate biological contexts. In this comprehensive review, we summarize what is known regarding each receptor tyrosine kinase during Drosophila development. Astonishingly, very little is known for approximately half of all Drosophila receptor tyrosine kinases.
About 20 RTKs are encoded by the Drosophila genome, most of which have a mammalian counterpart. They provide a means of communication between different tissues and cell types that leads to a robust and reproducible developmental program.
Drosophila melanogaster follicle stem cells are controlled by Wingless (Wg) ligands secreted 50 µm away, raising the question of how long-distance Wg spreading occurs. In this issue of JCB, Wang and Page-McCaw (2014. J. Cell Biol. http://dx.doi.org/10.1083/jcb.201403084) demonstrate a potential mechanism by which the heparan sulfate proteoglycan Dally-like (Dlp) promotes Wg travel, whereas matrix Mmp2 (Metalloproteinase 2) impedes it by inactivating Dlp.
In multicellular organisms, cell number is typically determined by a balance of intracellular signals that positively and negatively regulate cell survival and proliferation. Dissecting these signaling networks facilitates the understanding of normal development and tumorigenesis. Here, we study signaling by the Drosophila PDGF/VEGF Receptor (Pvr) in embryonic blood cells (hemocytes) and in the related cell line Kc as a model for the requirement of PDGF/VEGF receptors in vertebrate cell survival and proliferation. The system allows the investigation of downstream and parallel signaling networks, based on the ability of Pvr to activate Ras/Erk, Akt/TOR, and yet-uncharacterized signaling pathway/s, which redundantly mediate cell survival and contribute to proliferation. Using Kc cells, we performed a genome wide RNAi screen for regulators of cell number in a sensitized, Pvr deficient background. We identified the receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) Insulin-like receptor (InR) as a major Pvr Enhancer, and the nuclear hormone receptors Ecdysone receptor (EcR) and ultraspiracle (usp), corresponding to mammalian Retinoid X Receptor (RXR), as Pvr Suppressors. In vivo analysis in the Drosophila embryo revealed a previously unrecognized role for EcR to promote apoptotic death of embryonic blood cells, which is balanced with pro-survival signaling by Pvr and InR. Phosphoproteomic analysis demonstrates distinct modes of cell number regulation by EcR and RTK signaling. We define common phosphorylation targets of Pvr and InR that include regulators of cell survival, and unique targets responsible for specialized receptor functions. Interestingly, our analysis reveals that the selection of phosphorylation targets by signaling receptors shows qualitative changes depending on the signaling status of the cell, which may have wide-reaching implications for other cell regulatory systems.
Signaling networks that drive cell survival and proliferation regulate cell number in development and disease. We use a simple Drosophila model of cell number control, which centers on PDGF/VEGF receptor signaling. Performing a genome-wide RNAi screen under Pvr-sensitized conditions, we identify regulators of cell number that have not been found in conventional screens. Validation by in vivo genetics reveals previously unrecognized roles for EcR and InR in the balance of cell survival in the Drosophila embryo. Phosphoproteomic analysis demonstrates distinct mechanisms of cell survival regulation by EcR and receptor tyrosine kinase signaling. It further identifies common phosphorylation targets of Pvr and InR including regulators of cell survival, and receptor-specific phosphorylation targets mediating unique functions of Pvr and InR. Importantly, the study provides precedence that the selection of phosphorylation targets by signaling receptors can change with the signaling status of the cell, which may have wide-reaching implications for other cell regulatory systems.
Gene silencing through sequence-specific targeting of mRNAs by RNAi has enabled genome-wide functional screens in cultured cells and in vivo in model organisms. These screens have resulted in the identification of new cellular pathways and potential drug targets. Considerable progress has been made to improve the quality of RNAi screen data through the development of new experimental and bioinformatics approaches. The recent availability of genome-editing strategies, such as the CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-Cas9 system, when combined with RNAi, could lead to further improvements in screen data quality and follow-up experiments, thus promoting our understanding of gene function and gene regulatory networks.
Animal transcriptomes are dynamic, each cell type, tissue and organ system expressing an ensemble of transcript isoforms that give rise to substantial diversity. We identified new genes, transcripts, and proteins using poly(A)+ RNA sequence from Drosophila melanogaster cultured cell lines, dissected organ systems, and environmental perturbations. We found a small set of mostly neural-specific genes has the potential to encode thousands of transcripts each through extensive alternative promoter usage and RNA splicing. The magnitudes of splicing changes are larger between tissues than between developmental stages, and most sex-specific splicing is gonad-specific. Gonads express hundreds of previously unknown coding and long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) some of which are antisense to protein-coding genes and produce short regulatory RNAs. Furthermore, previously identified pervasive intergenic transcription occurs primarily within newly identified introns. The fly transcriptome is substantially more complex than previously recognized arising from combinatorial usage of promoters, splice sites, and polyadenylation sites.
Given the diversity of autophagy targets and regulation, it is important to characterize autophagy in various cell types and conditions. We used a primary myocyte cell culture system to assay the role of putative autophagy regulators in the specific context of skeletal muscle. By treating the cultures with rapamycin (Rap) and chloroquine (CQ) we induced an autophagic response, fully suppressible by knockdown of core ATG genes. We screened D. melanogaster orthologs of a previously reported mammalian autophagy protein-protein interaction network, identifying several proteins required for autophagosome formation in muscle cells, including orthologs of the Rab regulators RabGap1 and Rab3Gap1. The screen also highlighted the critical roles of the proteasome and glycogen metabolism in regulating autophagy. Specifically, sustained proteasome inhibition inhibited autophagosome formation both in primary culture and larval skeletal muscle, even though autophagy normally acts to suppress ubiquitin aggregate formation in these tissues. In addition, analyses of glycogen metabolic genes in both primary cultured and larval muscles indicated that glycogen storage enhances the autophagic response to starvation, an important insight given the link between glycogen storage disorders, autophagy, and muscle function.
Since the identification of the core autophagy genes in yeast, tissue culture cell lines have been the primary tool to evaluate the role and regulation of autophagy in higher organisms. However, since autophagy is a tissue-specific, context dependent process, stable cell lines can only give a limited view of the autophagic process. Here, we focus on the role of putative autophagy regulators in the specific context of the skeletal muscle, which has one of the most robust autophagy responses in mammals. We describe a fruitfly model of autophagy for skeletal muscles that integrates rapid genetic screening in primary cultured cells with robust in vivo validation in the larval muscle. We screened a set of genes previously linked to the autophagy pathway in humans, and identified both positive and negative regulators of autophagy. Our observation that genes involved in sugar metabolism impact muscle autophagy has important implications for both skeletal and cardiac myopathies associated with aberrant sugar storage. Surprisingly, we found that the proteasome is required to maintain autophagy in the muscle, suggesting that therapeutic treatments aiming to induce autophagy by proteasome inhibition must be carefully calibrated to ensure that the opposite phenotype does not occur.
Using a Drosophila model of Alzheimer's disease (AD), we systematically evaluated 67 candidate genes based on AD-associated genomic loci (P < 10−4) from published human genome-wide association studies (GWAS). Genetic manipulation of 87 homologous fly genes was tested for modulation of neurotoxicity caused by human Tau, which forms neurofibrillary tangle pathology in AD. RNA interference (RNAi) targeting 9 genes enhanced Tau neurotoxicity, and in most cases reciprocal activation of gene expression suppressed Tau toxicity. Our screen implicates cindr, the fly ortholog of the human CD2AP AD susceptibility gene, as a modulator of Tau-mediated disease mechanisms. Importantly, we also identify the fly orthologs of FERMT2 and CELF1 as Tau modifiers, and these loci have been independently validated as AD susceptibility loci in the latest GWAS meta-analysis. Both CD2AP and FERMT2 have been previously implicated with roles in cell adhesion, and our screen additionally identifies a fly homolog of the human integrin adhesion receptors, ITGAM and ITGA9, as a modifier of Tau neurotoxicity. Our results highlight cell adhesion pathways as important in Tau toxicity and AD susceptibility and demonstrate the power of model organism genetic screens for the functional follow-up of human GWAS.
The intestine is a key organ for lipid uptake and distribution, and abnormal intestinal lipid metabolism is associated with obesity and hyperlipidemia. Although multiple regulatory gut hormones secreted from enteroendocrine cells (EEs) regulate systemic lipid homeostasis, such as appetite control and energy balance in adipose tissue, their respective roles regarding lipid metabolism in the intestine are not well understood. We demonstrate that Tachykinins (TKs), one of the most abundant secreted peptides expressed in midgut EEs, regulate intestinal lipid production and subsequently control systemic lipid homeostasis in Drosophila, and that TKs repress lipogenesis in enterocytes (ECs) associated with the TKR99D receptor and PKA signaling. Interestingly, nutrient deprivation enhances the production of TKs in the midgut. Finally, unlike the physiological roles of TKs produced from the brain, gut-derived TKs do not affect behavior, thus demonstrating that gut TK hormones specifically regulate intestinal lipid metabolism without affecting neuronal functions.
The use of genome-wide proteomic and RNA interference approaches has moved our understanding of signal transduction from linear pathways to highly integrated networks centered on core nodes. However, probing the dynamics of flow of information through such networks remains technically challenging. In particular, how the temporal dynamics of an individual pathway can elicit distinct outcomes in a single cell type and how multiple pathways may interact sequentially or synchronously to influence cell fate remain open questions in many contexts. The development of fluorescence-based reporters and optogenetic regulators of pathway activity enables the analysis of signaling in living cells and organisms with unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution and holds the promise of addressing these key questions. We present a brief overview of the evidence for the importance of temporal dynamics in cellular regulation, introduce these fluorescence-based tools, and highlight specific studies that leveraged these tools to probe the dynamics of information flow through signaling networks. In particular, we highlight two studies in Caenorhabditis elegans sensory neurons and cultured mammalian cells that demonstrate the importance of signal dynamics in determining cellular responses.
Drosophila can exhibit classic hallmarks of cancer, such as evasion of apoptosis, sustained proliferation, metastasis, prolonged survival, genome instability, and metabolic reprogramming, when cancer-related genes are perturbed. In the last two decades, studies in flies have identified several tumor suppressor and oncogenes. However, the greatest strength of the fly lies in its ability to model cancer hallmarks in a variety of tissue types, which enables the study of context-dependent tumorigenesis. We review the organs and tissues that have been used to model tumor formation, and propose new strategies to maximize the potential of Drosophila in cancer research.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression by binding to sequences within the 3′UTR of mRNAs. Because miRNAs bind to short sequences with partial complementarity, target identification is challenging. To complement the existing target prediction algorithms, we devised a systematic “reverse approach” screening platform which allows the empirical prediction of miRNA-target interactions. Using Drosophila cells, we screened the 3′UTRs of the Hedgehog pathway genes against a genome-wide miRNA library and identified both predicted and many non-predicted miRNA-target interactions. We demonstrate that miR-14 is essential for maintaining the proper level of Hedgehog signaling activity by regulating its physiological target, hedgehog. Furthermore, elevated levels of miR-14 suppress Hedgehog signaling activity by co-targeting its apparent non-physiological targets, patched and smoothened. Altogether, our systematic screening platform is a powerful approach to identifying both physiological and apparent non-physiological targets of miRNAs, which are relevant in both normal and diseased tissues.
Intestinal stem cells in the adult Drosophila midgut are regulated by growth factors produced from the surrounding niche cells including enterocytes and visceral muscle. The role of the other major cell type, the secretory enteroendocrine cells, in regulating intestinal stem cells remains unclear. We show here that newly eclosed scute loss of function mutant flies are completely devoid of enteroendocrine cells. These enteroendocrine cell-less flies have normal ingestion and fecundity but shorter life span. Moreover, in these newly eclosed mutant flies, the diet-stimulated midgut growth that depends on the insulin-like peptide 3 expression in the surrounding muscle is defective. The depletion of Tachykinin producing enteroendocrine cells or knockdown of Tachykinin leads to a similar although less severe phenotype. These results together establish that enteroendocrine cells serve as an important link between diet and visceral muscle expression of an insulin-like growth factor to stimulate intestinal stem cell proliferation and tissue growth.
Drosophila; DILP3; enteroendocrine cells; homeostasis; intestine; scute; stem cells; Tachykinin
Recent evidence indicates that skeletal muscle influences systemic aging but little is known on the signaling pathways and muscle-released cytokines (myokines) responsible for this inter-tissue communication. Here, we show that muscle-specific overexpression of the transcription factor Mnt decreases age-related climbing defects and extends lifespan in Drosophila. Mnt overexpression in muscle autonomously decreases the expression of nucleolar components and systemically decreases rRNA levels and the size of the nucleolus in adipocytes. This non-autonomous control of the nucleolus, a regulator of ribosome biogenesis and lifespan, relies on Myoglianin, a myokine induced by Mnt and orthologous to human GDF11 and Myostatin. Myoglianin overexpression in muscle extends lifespan and decreases nucleolar size in adipocytes by activating p38 MAPK, while Myoglianin RNAi in muscle has converse effects. Altogether, these findings highlight a key role for myokine signaling in the integration of signaling events in muscle and distant tissues during aging.
Epidemiological studies in humans suggest that skeletal muscle aging is a risk factor for the development of several age-related diseases such as metabolic syndrome, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Here we review recent studies in mammals and Drosophila highlighting how nutrient- and stress-sensing in skeletal muscle can influence lifespan and overall aging of the organism. In addition to exercise and indirect effects of muscle metabolism, growing evidence suggests that muscle-derived growth factors and cytokines, known as myokines, modulate systemic physiology. Myokines may influence the progression of age-related diseases and contribute to the inter-tissue communication that underlies systemic aging.
skeletal muscle aging; systemic aging; myokine signaling; exercise; inter-tissue communication during aging
One of the most dramatic examples of programmed cell death occurs during Drosophila metamorphosis, when most of the larval tissues are destroyed in a process termed histolysis. Much of our understanding of this process comes from analyses of salivary gland and midgut cell death. In contrast, relatively little is known about the degradation of the larval musculature. Here, we analyze the programmed destruction of the abdominal dorsal exterior oblique muscle (DEOM) which occurs during the first 24 hrs of metamorphosis. We find that ecdysone signaling through Ecdysone receptor isoform B1 is required cell autonomously for the muscle death. Furthermore, we show that the orphan nuclear receptor FTZ-F1, opposed by another nuclear receptor, HR39, plays a critical role in the timing of DEOM histolysis. Finally, we show that unlike the histolysis of salivary gland and midgut, abdominal muscle death occurs by apoptosis, and does not require autophagy. Thus, there is no set rule as to the role of autophagy and apoptosis during Drosophila histolysis.
Mitochondrial dysfunction is usually associated with aging. To systematically characterize the compensatory stress signaling cascades triggered in response to muscle mitochondrial perturbation, we analyzed a Drosophila model of muscle mitochondrial injury. We find that mild muscle mitochondrial distress preserves mitochondrial function, impedes the age-dependent deterioration of muscle function and architecture, and prolongs lifespan. Strikingly, this effect is mediated by at least two pro-longevity compensatory signaling modules: one involving a muscle-restricted redox-dependent induction of genes that regulate the mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt); and another involving the transcriptional induction of the Drosophila ortholog of insulin-like growth factor binding protein 7, which systemically antagonizes insulin signaling, and facilitates mitophagy. Given that several secreted IGF-binding proteins (IGFBPs) exist in mammals, our work raises the possibility that muscle mitochondrial injury in humans may similarly result in the secretion of IGFBPs, with important ramifications for diseases associated with aberrant insulin signaling.
Stem cells possess the capacity to generate two cells of distinct fate upon division; one cell retaining stem cell identity and the other cell destined to differentiate. These cell fates are established by cell-type-specific genetic networks. To comprehensively identify components of these networks, we performed a large-scale RNAi screen in Drosophila female germline stem cells (GSCs) covering ~25% of the genome. The screen identified 366 genes that affect GSC maintenance, differentiation or other processes involved in oogenesis. Comparison of GSC regulators with neural stem cell self-renewal factors identifies common and cell-type-specific self-renewal genes. Importantly, we identify the histone methyltransferase Set1 as a GSC specific self-renewal factor. Loss of Set1 in neural stem cells does not affect cell fate decisions, suggesting a differential requirement of H3K4me3 in different stem cell lineages. Altogether, our study provides a resource that will help to further dissect the networks underlying stem cell self-renewal.
During development, signaling pathways specify cell fates by activating transcriptional programs in response to extracellular signals. Extensive studies in the past 30 years have revealed that surprisingly few pathways exist to regulate developmental programs and that dysregulation of these can lead to human diseases, including cancer. Although these pathways use distinct signaling components and signaling strategies, a number of common themes have emerged regarding their organization and regulation in time and space. Examples from Drosophila, such as Notch, Hedgehog, Wingless/WNT, BMP (bone morphogenetic proteins), EGF (epidermal growth factor), and FGF (fibroblast growth factor) signaling, illustrate their abilities to act either at a short range or over a long distance, and in some instances to generate morphogen gradients that pattern fields of cells in a concentration-dependent manner. They also show how feedback loops and transcriptional cascades are part of the logic of developmental regulation.
Surprisingly few signaling pathways (11 classes) regulate developmental programs. Each pathway does not control a specific biological process; rather, each pathway can elicit diverse effects, depending on the state of the cell.
A major objective of systems biology is to organize molecular interactions as networks and to characterize information-flow within networks. We describe a computational framework to integrate protein-protein interaction (PPI) networks and genetic screens to predict the “signs” of interactions (i.e. activation/inhibition relationships). We constructed a Drosophila melanogaster signed PPI network, consisting of 6,125 signed PPIs connecting 3,352 proteins that can be used to identify positive and negative regulators of signaling pathways and protein complexes. We identified an unexpected role for the metabolic enzymes Enolase and Aldo-keto reductase as positive and negative regulators of proteolysis, respectively. Characterization of the activation/inhibition relationships between physically interacting proteins within signaling pathways will impact our understanding of many biological functions, including signal transduction and mechanisms of disease.
RNA interference (RNAi) is an effective and important tool used to study gene function. For large-scale screens, RNAi is used to systematically down-regulate genes of interest and analyze their roles in a biological process. However, RNAi is associated with off-target effects (OTEs), including microRNA (miRNA)-like OTEs. The contribution of reagent-specific OTEs to RNAi screen data sets can be significant. In addition, the post-screen validation process is time and labor intensive. Thus, the availability of robust approaches to identify candidate off-targeted transcripts would be beneficial.
Significant efforts have been made to eliminate false positive results attributable to sequence-specific OTEs associated with RNAi. These approaches have included improved algorithms for RNAi reagent design, incorporation of chemical modifications into siRNAs, and the use of various bioinformatics strategies to identify possible OTEs in screen results. Genome-wide Enrichment of Seed Sequence matches (GESS) was developed to identify potential off-targeted transcripts in large-scale screen data by seed-region analysis. Here, we introduce a user-friendly web application that provides researchers a relatively quick and easy way to perform GESS analysis on data from human or mouse cell-based screens using short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) or short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs), as well as for Drosophila screens using shRNAs. Online GESS relies on up-to-date transcript sequence annotations for human and mouse genes extracted from NCBI Reference Sequence (RefSeq) and Drosophila genes from FlyBase. The tool also accommodates analysis with user-provided reference sequence files.
Online GESS provides a straightforward user interface for genome-wide seed region analysis for human, mouse and Drosophila RNAi screen data. With the tool, users can either use a built-in database or provide a database of transcripts for analysis. This makes it possible to analyze RNAi data from any organism for which the user can provide transcript sequences.
RNAi; Off-target effects; Data analysis; Seed region; miRNA; siRNA; shRNA; High-throughput screening
The Hippo pathway controls metazoan organ growth by regulating cell proliferation and apoptosis. Many components have been identified, but our knowledge of the composition and structure of this pathway is still incomplete. Using existing pathway components as baits, we generated by mass spectrometry a high-confidence Drosophila Hippo protein-protein interaction network (Hippo-PPIN) consisting of 153 proteins and 204 interactions. Depletion of 67% of the proteins by RNA interference regulated the transcriptional coactivator Yorkie (Yki) either positively or negatively. We selected for further characterization a new member of the alpha-arrestin family, Leash, and show that it promotes degradation of Yki through the lysosomal pathway. Given the importance of the Hippo pathway in tumor development, the Hippo-PPIN will contribute to our understanding of this network in both normal growth and cancer.
The intestine has evolved under constant environmental stresses, because an animal may ingest harmful pathogens or chemicals at any time during its lifespan. Following damage, intestinal stem cells (ISCs) regenerate the intestine by proliferating to replace dying cells. ISCs from diverse animals are remarkably similar, and the Wnt, Notch, and Hippo signaling pathways, important regulators of mammalian ISCs, are conserved from flies to humans. Unexpectedly, we identified the transcription factor period, a component of the circadian clock, to be critical for regeneration, which itself follows a circadian rhythm. We discovered hundreds of transcripts that are regulated by the clock during intestinal regeneration, including components of stress response and regeneration pathways. Disruption of clock components leads to arrhythmic ISC divisions, revealing their underappreciated role in the healing process.