In Drosophila, Notch and EGFR signalling pathways are closely intertwined. Their relationship is mostly antagonistic, and may in part be based on the phosphorylation of the Notch signal transducer Suppressor of Hairless [Su(H)] by MAPK. Su(H) is a transcription factor that together with several cofactors regulates the expression of Notch target genes.
Here we address the consequences of a local induction of three Su(H) variants on Notch target gene expression. To this end, wild-type Su(H), a phospho-deficient Su(H)MAPK-ko and a phospho-mimetic Su(H)MAPK-ac isoform were overexpressed in the central domain of the wing anlagen. The expression of the Notch target genes cut, wingless, E(spl)m8-HLH and vestigial, was monitored. For the latter two, reporter genes were used (E(spl)m8-lacZ, vgBE-lacZ). In general, Su(H)MAPK-ko induced a stronger response than wild-type Su(H), whereas the response to Su(H)MAPK-ac was very weak. Notch target genes cut, wingless and vgBE-lacZ were ectopically activated, whereas E(spl)m8-lacZ was repressed by overexpression of Su(H) proteins. In addition, in epistasis experiments an activated form of the EGF-receptor (DERact) or the MAPK (rlSEM) and individual Su(H) variants were co-overexpressed locally, to compare the resultant phenotypes in adult flies (thorax, wings and eyes) as well as to assay the response of the Notch target gene cut in cell clones.