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Genome-wide identification of mRNAs associated with the translational regulator PUMILIO in Drosophila melanogaster

By: Gerber AP, Luschnig S, Krasnow MA, Brown PO, Herschlag D

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A | Volume: 103 | Issue: 12 | 4487–92 |

Genome-wide identification of RNAs associated with RNA-binding proteins is crucial for deciphering posttranscriptional regulatory systems. PUMILIO is a member of the evolutionary conserved Puf-family of RNA-binding proteins that repress gene expression posttranscriptionally. We generated transgenic flies expressing affinity-tagged PUMILIO under the control of an ovary-specific promoter, and we purified PUMILIO from whole adult flies and embryos and analyzed associated mRNAs by using DNA microarrays. Distinct sets comprising hundreds of mRNAs were associated with PUMILIO at the two developmental stages. Many of these mRNAs encode functionally related proteins, supporting a model for coordinated regulation of posttranscriptional modules by specific RNA-binding proteins. We identified a characteristic sequence motif in the 3′-untranslated regions of mRNAs associated with PUMILIO, and the sufficiency of this motif for interaction with PUMILIO was confirmed by RNA pull-down experiments with biotinylated synthetic RNAs. The RNA motif strikingly resembles the one previously identified for Puf3p, one of five Saccharomyces cerevisiae Puf proteins; however, proteins encoded by the associated mRNAs in yeast and Drosophila do not appear to be related. The results suggest extensive posttranscriptional regulation by PUMILIO and uncover evolutionary features of this conserved family of RNA-binding proteins.

serpentine and vermiform encode matrix proteins with chitin binding and deacetylation domains that limit tracheal tube length in Drosophila

By: Luschnig S, Bätz T, Armbruster K, Krasnow MA

Current Biology | Volume: 16 | Issue: 2 | 186-94 |

Many organs contain epithelial tubes that transport gases or liquids . Proper tube size and shape is crucial for organ function, but the mechanisms controlling tube diameter and length are poorly understood. Recent studies of tracheal (respiratory) tube morphogenesis in Drosophila show that chitin synthesis genes produce an expanding chitin cylinder in the apical (luminal) extracellular matrix (ECM) that coordinates the dilation of the surrounding epithelium . Here, we describe two genes involved in chitin modification, serpentine (serp) and vermiform (verm), mutations in which cause excessively long and tortuous tracheal tubes. The genes encode similar proteins with an LDL-receptor ligand binding motif and chitin binding and deacetylation domains. Both proteins are expressed and secreted during tube expansion and localize throughout the lumen in a chitin-dependent manner. Unlike previously characterized chitin pathway genes, serp and verm are not required for chitin synthesis or secretion but rather for its normal fibrillar structure. The mutations also affect structural properties of another chitinous matrix, epidermal cuticle. Our work demonstrates that chitin and the matrix proteins Serp and Verm limit tube elongation, and it suggests that tube length is controlled independently of diameter by modulating physical properties of the chitin ECM, presumably by N-deacetylation of chitin and conversion to chitosan.


Requirement for chitin biosynthesis in epithelial tube morphogenesis

By: Devine WP, Lubarsky B, Shaw K, Luschnig S, Messina L, Krasnow MA

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A | Volume: 102 | 17014-19 |

Many organs are composed of branched networks of epithelial tubes that transport vital fluids or gases. The proper size and shape of tubes are crucial for their transport function, but the molecular processes that govern tube size and shape are not well understood. Here we show that three genes required for tracheal tube morphogenesis in Drosophila melanogaster encode proteins involved in the synthesis and accumulation of chitin, a polymer of N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosamine that serves as a scaffold in the rigid extracellular matrix of insect cuticle. In all three mutants, developing tracheal tubes bud and extend normally, but the epithelial walls of the tubes do not expand uniformly, and the resultant tubes are grossly misshapen, with constricted and distended regions all along their lengths. The genes are expressed in tracheal cells during the expansion process, and chitin accumulates in the lumen of tubes, forming an expanding cylinder that we propose coordinates the behavior of the surrounding tracheal cells and stabilizes the expanding epithelium. These findings show that chitin regulates epithelial tube morphogenesis, in addition to its classical role protecting mature epithelia.


Drosophila p24 homologues eclair and baiser are necessary for the activity of the maternally expressed Tkv receptor during early embryogenesis

By: Bartoszewski S, Luschnig S, Desjeux I, Grosshans J, Nüsslein-Volhard C

Mechanisms of Development | Volume: 121 | Issue: 10 | 1259-73 |

p24 proteins are assumed to play an important role in the transport of secreted and transmembrane proteins into membranes. However, only few cargo proteins are known that partially, but in no case completely require p24 proteins for membrane transport. Here, we show that two p24 proteins are essential for dorsoventral patterning of Drosophila melanogaster embryo. Mutations in the genes, eclair (eca) and baiser (bai), encoding two p24 proteins reduce signalling by the TGF-beta homologue, Dpp, in early embryos. This effect is strictly maternal and specific to early embryogenesis, as Dpp signalling in other contexts is not notably affected. We provide genetic evidence that in the absence of eca or bai function in the oocyte, the maternally expressed type I TGF-beta receptor Tkv is not active. We propose that during early embryogenesis eca and bai are specifically required for the activity of the maternal Tkv, while the zygotic Tkv is not affected in the mutant embryos. Mutations in either eca or bai are sufficient for the depletion of Tkv activity and no enhancement of the phenotypes was observed in embryos derived from oocytes mutant for both genes. The dependence of maternal Tkv protein on the products of p24 genes may serve as an in vivo model for studying p24 proteins.

An F1 genetic screen for maternal-effect mutations affecting embryonic pattern formation in Drosophila melanogaster

By: Luschnig S, Moussian B, Krauss J, Desjeux I, Perkovic J, Nüsslein-Volhard C

Genetics | Volume: 167 | Issue: 1 | 325-42 |

Large-scale screens for female-sterile mutations have revealed genes required maternally for establishment of the body axes in the Drosophila embryo. Although it is likely that the majority of components involved in axis formation have been identified by this approach, certain genes have escaped detection. This may be due to (1) incomplete saturation of the screens for female-sterile mutations and (2) genes with essential functions in zygotic development that mutate to lethality, precluding their identification as female-sterile mutations. To overcome these limitations, we performed a genetic mosaic screen aimed at identifying new maternal genes required for early embryonic patterning, including zygotically required ones. Using the Flp-FRT technique and a visible germline clone marker, we developed a system that allows efficient screening for maternal-effect phenotypes after only one generation of breeding, rather than after the three generations required for classic female-sterile screens. We identified 232 mutants showing various defects in embryonic pattern or morphogenesis. The mutants were ordered into 10 different phenotypic classes. A total of 174 mutants were assigned to 86 complementation groups with two alleles on average. Mutations in 45 complementation groups represent most previously known maternal genes, while 41 complementation groups represent new loci, including several involved in dorsoventral, anterior-posterior, and terminal patterning.


Branching morphogenesis of the Drosophila tracheal system

By: Ghabrial A, Luschnig S, Metzstein MM, Krasnow MA

Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology | Volume: 19 | 623-47 |

Many organs including the mammalian lung and vascular system consist of branched tubular networks that transport essential gases or fluids, but the genetic programs that control the development of these complex three-dimensional structures are not well understood. The Drosophila melanogaster tracheal (respiratory) system is a network of interconnected epithelial tubes that transports oxygen and other gases in the body and provides a paradigm of branching morphogenesis. It develops by sequential sprouting of primary, secondary, and terminal branches from an epithelial sac of approximately 80 cells in each body segment of the embryo. Mapping of the cell movements and shape changes during the sprouting process has revealed that distinct mechanisms of epithelial migration and tube formation are used at each stage of branching. Genetic dissection of the process has identified a general program in which a fibroblast growth factor (FGF) and fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) are used repeatedly to control branch budding and outgrowth. At each stage of branching, the mechanisms controlling FGF expression and the downstream signal transduction pathway change, altering the pattern and structure of the branches that form. During terminal branching, FGF expression is regulated by hypoxia, ensuring that tracheal structure matches cellular oxygen need. A branch diversification program operates in parallel to the general budding program: Regional signals locally modify the general program, conferring specific structural features and other properties on individual branches, such as their substrate outgrowth preferences, differences in tube size and shape, and the ability to fuse to other branches to interconnect the network.

Krapfen/dMyd88 is required for the establishment of dorsoventral pattern in the Drosophila embryo

By: Charatsi I, Luschnig S, Bartoszewski S, Nüsslein-Volhard C, Moussian B

Mechanisms of Development | Volume: 120 | Issue: 2 | 219-26 |

In Drosophila, the dorsoventral axis is set up by the action of the dorsal group of genes and cactus, which have been ordered genetically in a linear pathway. We have identified and characterised krapfen (kra) as a new member of the dorsal-group genes. kra encodes for the Drosophila homologue of MyD88, an adapter protein operating in the mammalian IL-1 pathway. Epistasis experiments reveal that kra acts between the receptor Toll and the cytoplasmic factor Tube. We show that there is a direct interaction between Kra and Tube presumably mediated by the death domains present in both proteins. Tube in turn interacts with its downstream effector Pelle through death domain association. We therefore suggest that upon Toll activation, Kra associates with Pelle and Tube, in an heterotrimeric complex.


Gamma-tubulin37C and gamma-tubulin ring complex protein 75 are essential for bicoid RNA localization during Drosophila oogenesis

By: Schnorrer F, Luschnig S, Koch I, Nüsslein-Volhard C

Developmental Cell | Volume: 3 | Issue: 5 | 685-96 |

bicoid (bcd) RNA localization requires the activity of exuperantia and swallow at sequential steps of oogenesis and is microtubule dependent. In a genetic screen, we identified two novel genes essential for bcd RNA localization. They encode maternal gamma-Tubulin37C (gammaTub37C) and gamma-tubulin ring complex protein 75 (Dgrip75), both of which are gamma-tubulin ring complex components. Mutations in these genes specifically affect bcd RNA localization, whereas other microtubule-dependent processes during oogenesis are not impaired. This provides direct evidence that a subset of microtubules organized by the gamma-tubulin ring complex is essential for localization of bcd RNA. At stage 10b, we find gammaTub37C and Dgrip75 anteriorly concentrated and propose the formation of a microtubule-organizing center at the anterior pole of the oocyte.


The Drosophila SHC adaptor protein is required for signaling by a subset of receptor tyrosine kinases

By: Luschnig S, Krauss J, Bohmann K, Desjeux I, Nüsslein-Volhard C

Molecular Cell | Volume: 5 | Issue: 2 | 231-41 |

Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) transduce signals via cytoplasmic adaptor proteins to downstream signaling components. We have identified loss-of-function mutations in dshc, the Drosophila homolog of the mammalian adaptor protein SHC. A point mutation in the phosphotyrosine binding (PTB) domain completely abolishes DSHC function and provides in vivo evidence for the function of PTB domains. Unlike other adaptor proteins, DSHC is involved in signaling by only a subset of RTKs: dshc mutants show defects in Torso and DER but not Sevenless signaling, which is confirmed by epistasis experiments. We show by double-mutant analysis that the adaptors DOS, DRK, and DSHC act in parallel to transduce the Torso signal. Our results suggest that DSHC confers specificity to receptor signaling.