logo What's new in edition 63
January 2012
Gene sites new with this edition

Gene sites new with this edition

Ataxin-2
Chromosome alignment defect 1
Clathrin heavy chain
Dysbindin
Enhancer of yellow 3
Hormone receptor 52
Insensitive
Metro
Neurotrophin 1
Rab-protein 3
Smt3
Veli
What was new in recent past editions
[edition 62] August 2011
[edition 61] April 2011
[edition 60] December 2010
[edition 59] August 2010
[edition 58] April 2010
[edition 57] January 2010

The Interactive Fly was first released July/August 1996, with updates provided at approximately one month intervals, through September 1997 (edition 13). Updating quarterly started with edition 14. With edition 40, the Interactive Fly began to schedule updates three times a year: fall, winter and spring.


Gene sites new with this edition of the Interactive Fly:

Ataxin-2
Studies in Drosophila suggest that Ataxin-2 is required for microRNA function and synapse-specific long-term olfactory habituation. Local control of mRNA translation has been proposed as a mechanism for regulating synapse-specific plasticity associated with long-term memory. Glomerulus-selective plasticity of Drosophila multiglomerular local interneurons observed during long-term olfactory habituation (LTH) requires the Ataxin-2 protein (Atx2) to function in uniglomerular projection neurons (PNs) postsynaptic to local interneurons (LNs). PN-selective knockdown of Atx2 selectively blocks LTH to odorants to which the PN responds and in addition selectively blocks LTH-associated structural and functional plasticity in odorant-responsive glomeruli. Atx2 has been shown previously to bind DEAD box helicases of the Me31B family, proteins associated with Argonaute (Ago) and microRNA (miRNA) function. Robust transdominant interactions of atx2 with me31B and ago1 indicate that Atx2 functions with miRNA-pathway components for LTH and associated synaptic plasticity. Further direct experiments show that Atx2 is required for miRNA-mediated repression of several translational reporters in vivo. Together, these observations (1) show that Atx2 and miRNA components regulate synapse-specific long-term plasticity in vivo; (2) identify Atx2 as a component of the miRNA pathway; and (3) provide insight into the biological function of Atx2 that is of potential relevance to spinocerebellar ataxia and neurodegenerative disease (McCann, 2011).

Chromosome alignment defect 1
Propagation of centromere identity during cell cycle progression in higher eukaryotes depends critically on the faithful incorporation of a centromere-specific histone H3 variant encoded by CENPA in humans and cid in Drosophila. Cenp-A/Cid is required for the recruitment of Cenp-C, another conserved centromere protein. With yeast three-hybrid experiments, this study demonstrates that the essential Drosophila centromere protein Cal1 can link Cenp-A/Cid and Cenp-C. Cenp-A/Cid and Cenp-C interact with the N- and C-terminal domains of Cal1, respectively. These Cal1 domains are sufficient for centromere localization and function, but only when linked together. Using quantitative in vivo imaging to determine protein copy numbers at centromeres and kinetochores, it was demonstrates that centromeric Cal1 levels are far lower than those of Cenp-A/Cid, Cenp-C and other conserved kinetochore components, which scale well with the number of kinetochore microtubules when comparing Drosophila with budding yeast. Rather than providing a stoichiometric link within the mitotic kinetochore, Cal1 limits centromeric deposition of Cenp-A/Cid and Cenp-C during exit from mitosis. The low amount of endogenous Cal1 prevents centromere expansion and mitotic kinetochore failure when Cenp-A/Cid and Cenp-C are present in excess (Schittenhelm, 2010).

Clathrin heavy chain
Regulated secretion of hormones, digestive enzymes, and other biologically active molecules requires the formation of secretory granules. Clathrin and the clathrin adaptor protein complex 1 (AP-1) are necessary for maturation of exocrine, endocrine, and neuroendocrine secretory granules. However, the initial steps of secretory granule biogenesis are only minimally understood. Powerful genetic approaches available in Drosophila were used to investigate the molecular pathway for biogenesis of the mucin-containing 'glue granules' that form within epithelial cells of the third-instar larval salivary gland. Clathrin and AP-1 colocalize at the trans-Golgi network (TGN) and clathrin recruitment requires AP-1. Furthermore, clathrin and AP-1 colocalize with secretory cargo at the TGN and on immature granules. Finally, loss of clathrin or AP-1 leads to a profound block in secretory granule formation. These findings establish a novel role for AP-1- and clathrin-dependent trafficking in the biogenesis of mucin-containing secretory granules (Burgess, 2011).

Dysbindin
The molecular mechanisms that achieve homeostatic stabilization of neural function remain largely unknown. To better understand how neural function is stabilized during development and throughout life, an electrophysiology-based forward genetic screen was used, and the function of more than 250 neuronally expressed genes was assessed for a role in the homeostatic modulation of synaptic transmission in Drosophila. This screen ruled out the involvement of numerous synaptic proteins and identified a critical function for dysbindin, a gene linked to schizophrenia in humans. dysbindin was found to be required presynaptically for the retrograde, homeostatic modulation of neurotransmission, and functions in a dose-dependent manner downstream or independently of calcium influx. Thus, dysbindin is essential for adaptive neural plasticity and may link altered homeostatic signaling with a complex neurological disease (Dickman, 2009).

Enhancer of yellow 3
Transcription activation by RNA polymerase II (Pol II) is a complicated process driven by combined, precisely coordinated action of a wide array of coactivator complexes, which carry out chromatin-directed activities and nucleate the assembly of the preinitiation complex on the promoter. Using various techniques, this study has shown the existence of a stable coactivator supercomplex consisting of the chromatin-remodeling factor Brahma (SWI/SNF) and the transcription initiation factor TFIID, named BTFly (Brahma and TFIID in one assembly). The coupling of Brahma and TFIID is mediated by the SAYP factor, whose evolutionarily conserved activation domain SAY can directly bind to both BAP170 subunit of Brahma and TAF5 subunit of TFIID. The integrity of BTFly is crucial for its ability to activate transcription. BTFly is distributed genome-wide and appears to be a means of effective transcription activation (Vorobyeva, 2009a).

Hormone receptor 52
The mushroom bodies (MBs) of Drosophila are required for complex behaviors and consist of three types of neurons, γ, α'/β' and α/β. Previously, roles for transcription factors in MB neuronal differentiation have only been described for a subset of MB neurons. This study investigated the roles of unfulfilled (unf; HR51, CG16801) in MB development. unf encodes a nuclear receptor that is orthologous to the nuclear receptors fasciculation of axons defective 1 (FAX-1) of the nematode and photoreceptor specific nuclear receptor (PNR) of mammals. Based on previous observations that unf transcripts accumulate in MB neurons at all developmental stages and the presence of axon pathfinding defects in fax-1 mutants, it is hypothesized that unf regulates MB axon growth and pathfinding.

Insensitive
The Notch intracellular domain functions as a co-activator for the DNA-binding protein Suppressor of Hairless [Su(H)] to mediate myriad cell fate decisions. Notch pathway activity is balanced by transcriptional repression, mediated by Su(H) in concert with its Drosophila corepressor Hairless. This study demonstrates that the Drosophila neural BEN-solo protein Insensitive (Insv) is a nuclear factor that inhibits Notch signalling during multiple peripheral nervous system cell fate decisions. Endogenous Insv was particularly critical when repressor activity of Su(H) was compromised. Reciprocally, ectopic Insv generated several Notch loss-of-function phenotypes, repressed most Notch targets in the E(spl)-C, and opposed Notch-mediated activation of an E(spl)m3-luc reporter. A direct role for Insv in transcriptional repression was indicated by binding of Insv to Su(H), and by strong chromatin immunoprecipitation of endogenous Insv to most E(spl)-C loci. Strikingly, ectopic Insv fully rescued sensory organ precursors in Hairless null clones, indicating that Insv can antagonize Notch independently of Hairless. These data shed first light on the in vivo function for a BEN-solo protein as an Su(H) corepressor in the Notch pathway regulating neural development (Duan, 2011).

Metro
Structural plasticity of synaptic junctions is a prerequisite to achieve and modulate connectivity within nervous systems, e.g., during learning and memory formation. It demands adequate backup systems that allow remodeling while retaining sufficient stability to prevent unwanted synaptic disintegration. The strength of submembranous scaffold complexes, which are fundamental to the architecture of synaptic junctions, likely constitutes a crucial determinant of synaptic stability. Postsynaptic density protein-95 (PSD-95)/ Discs-large (Dlg)-like membrane-associated guanylate kinases (DLG-MAGUKs) are principal scaffold proteins at both vertebrate and invertebrate synapses. At Drosophila larval glutamatergic neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) DlgA and DlgS97 exert pleiotropic functions, probably reflecting a few known and a number of yet-unknown binding partners. This study has identified Metro, a novel p55/MPP-like Drosophila MAGUK as a major binding partner of perisynaptic DlgS97 at larval NMJs. Based on homotypic LIN-2,-7 (L27) domain interactions, Metro stabilizes junctional DlgS97 in a complex with the highly conserved adaptor protein DLin-7. In a remarkably interdependent manner, Metro and DLin-7 act downstream of DlgS97 to control NMJ expansion and proper establishment of synaptic boutons. Using quantitative 3D-imaging it was further demonstrated that the complex controls the size of postsynaptic glutamate receptor fields. These findings accentuate the importance of perisynaptic scaffold complexes for synaptic stabilization and organization (Bachmann, 2010).

Neurotrophin 1
Neurotrophic interactions occur in Drosophila, but to date, no neurotrophic factor had been found. Neurotrophins are the main vertebrate secreted signalling molecules that link nervous system structure and function: they regulate neuronal survival, targeting, synaptic plasticity, memory and cognition. This study has identified a neurotrophic factor in flies, Drosophila Neurotrophin (DNT1), structurally related to all known neurotrophins and highly conserved in insects. By investigating with genetics the consequences of removing DNT1 or adding it in excess, it was shown that DNT1 maintains neuronal survival, as more neurons die in DNT1 mutants and expression of DNT1 rescues naturally occurring cell death, and it enables targeting by motor neurons. Spätzle and a further fly neurotrophin superfamily member, DNT2, also have neurotrophic functions in flies. These findings imply that most likely a neurotrophin was present in the common ancestor of all bilateral organisms, giving rise to invertebrate and vertebrate neurotrophins through gene or whole-genome duplications. This work provides a missing link between aspects of neuronal function in flies and vertebrates, and it opens the opportunity to use Drosophila to investigate further aspects of neurotrophin function and to model related diseases (Zhu, 2008).

Rab-protein 3
Synaptic transmission requires the localization of presynaptic release machinery to active zones. Mechanisms regulating the abundance of such synaptic proteins at individual release sites are likely determinants of site-specific synaptic efficacy. A role for the small GTPase Rab3 has been identified in regulating the distribution of presynaptic components to active zones. At Drosophila rab3 mutant NMJs, the presynaptic protein Bruchpilot, calcium channels, and electron-dense T bars are concentrated at a fraction of available active zones, leaving the majority of sites devoid of these key presynaptic release components. Late addition of Rab3 to mutant NMJs rapidly reverses this phenotype by recruiting Brp to sites previously lacking the protein, demonstrating that Rab3 can dynamically control the composition of the presynaptic release machinery. While previous studies of Rab3 have focused on its role in the synaptic vesicle cycle, these findings demonstrate an additional and unexpected function for Rab3 in the localization of presynaptic proteins to active zones (Graf, 2009).

Smt3
SUMO (Small Ubiquitin-like Modifier, a 90 amino acid protein) is a protein modifier that is vital for multicellular development. This study presents the first system-wide analysis, combining multiple approaches, to correlate the sumoylated proteome (SUMO-ome) in a multicellular organism with the developmental roles of SUMO. Using mass-spectrometry-based protein identification, over 140 largely novel SUMO conjugates were found in the early Drosophila embryo. Enriched functional groups include proteins involved in Ras signaling, cell cycle, and pattern formation. In support of the functional significance of these findings, sumo mutant germline clone embryos exhibited phenotypes indicative of defects in these same three processes. Cell culture and immunolocalization studies further substantiate roles for SUMO in Ras signaling and cell cycle regulation. For example, SUMO was found to be required for efficient Ras-mediated MAP kinase activation upstream or at the level of Ras activation. It was further found that SUMO is dynamically localized during mitosis to the condensed chromosomes, and later also to the midbody. Polo kinase, a SUMO substrate found in the screen, partially colocalizes with SUMO at both sites. These studies show that SUMO coordinates multiple regulatory processes during oogenesis and early embryogenesis. In addition, a database of sumoylated proteins provides a valuable resource for those studying the roles of SUMO in development (Nie, 2009).

Veli
Structural plasticity of synaptic junctions is a prerequisite to achieve and modulate connectivity within nervous systems, e.g., during learning and memory formation. It demands adequate backup systems that allow remodeling while retaining sufficient stability to prevent unwanted synaptic disintegration. The strength of submembranous scaffold complexes, which are fundamental to the architecture of synaptic junctions, likely constitutes a crucial determinant of synaptic stability. Postsynaptic density protein-95 (PSD-95)/ Discs-large (Dlg)-like membrane-associated guanylate kinases (DLG-MAGUKs) are principal scaffold proteins at both vertebrate and invertebrate synapses. At Drosophila larval glutamatergic neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) DlgA and DlgS97 exert pleiotropic functions, probably reflecting a few known and a number of yet-unknown binding partners. This study has identified Metro (Menage a trois), a novel p55/MPP-like Drosophila MAGUK as a major binding partner of perisynaptic DlgS97 at larval NMJs. Based on homotypic LIN-2,-7 (L27) domain interactions, Metro stabilizes junctional DlgS97 in a complex with the highly conserved adaptor protein DLin-7. In a remarkably interdependent manner, Metro and DLin-7 act downstream of DlgS97 to control NMJ expansion and proper establishment of synaptic boutons. Using quantitative 3D-imaging it was further demonstrated that the complex controls the size of postsynaptic glutamate receptor fields. These findings accentuate the importance of perisynaptic scaffold complexes for synaptic stabilization and organization (Bachmann, 2010).


date revised: 2 January 2012

Home page: The Interactive Fly © 2011 Thomas B. Brody, Ph.D.

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