The Interactive Fly
Zygotically transcribed genes
The ras pathway is a signal transduction cascade. In the Drosophila eye the receptor Sevenless is borne by cells that have the potential to develop into R7 photoreceptors, the last of eight photoreceptors to differentiate in each ommatidium. Signals from the ligand Boss, a seven pass transmembrane protein that serves as the ligand for Sevenless, triggers autophosphorylation in the Sevenless receptor tyrosine kinase. Phosphorylated Sevenless binds the adaptor protein DRK which subsequently interacts with SOS, a guanine nucleotide-releasing protein, which then removes GDP from inactive RAS and substitutes GTP. The substitution of GTP for GDP activates RAS protein.
Up to this point ras pathway proteins functions not as a soup of ingredients but as an ordered complex assembled in a successive fashion to the cytoplasmic tail of the receptor Sevenless. Signal amplification is not the object, but rather assembly of a multimolecular membrane associated protein complex. Subsequent events, the activation of Draf, initiate a signal transduction cascade phosphorylating and successively activating Dmek and Rolled. This cascade does in fact serve to amplify the Sevenless signal, and results in the phosphorylation and activation of the transcription factor Pointed, which then determines R7 fate.
The ras pathway is used by four receptors, each triggered by different ligands in different tissues. The targets of Ras signaling between tissues also differ. Thus the ras pathway serves to transduce signals between receptor tyrosine kinases and the nucleus. Recent studies show that there are parallel pathways to the RAS1 to Rolled phosphorylation cascade, even in Drosophila. For a newly characterized example see Hemipterous and the dorsal closure pathway. The components of these alternative pathways are currently being investigated.
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