Jun-related antigen Evolutionary Homologs | Regulation | Developmental Biology | Effects of Mutation | References

Gene name - Jun-related antigen

Synonyms - DJun

Cytological map position - 46E

Function - transcription factor

Keyword(s) - Sevenless-ras pathway, JNK pathway, oncogene

Symbol - Jra

FlyBase ID:FBgn0001291

Genetic map position - 2-[59]

Classification - basic leucine zipper

Cellular location - nuclear

NCBI links: Precomputed BLAST | Entrez Gene
Recent literature
Liu, Y. and Zhang, D. (2015). HP1a/KDM4A is involved in the autoregulatory loop of the oncogene gene c-Jun. Epigenetics[Epub ahead of print]. PubMed ID: 25945750
The proto-oncogene c-Jun plays crucial roles in tumorigenesis, and its aberrant expression has been implicated in many cancers. Previous studies have shown that the c-Jun gene is positively autoregulated by its product. Notably, it has also been reported that c-Jun proteins are enriched in its gene body region. However, the role of c-Jun proteins in its gene body region has yet to be uncovered. HP1a is an evolutionarily conserved heterochromatin-associated protein, which plays an essential role in heterochromatin-mediated gene silencing. Interestingly, accumulating evidence shows that HP1a is also localized to euchromatic regions to positively regulate gene transcription. However, the underlying mechanism has not been defined. This study demonstrates that HP1a is involved in the positive autoregulatory loop of the Jra gene, the c-Jun homologue in Drosophila. Jra recruited the HP1a/KDM4A complex to its gene body region upon osmotic stress to reduce H3K36 methylation levels and disrupt H3K36 methylation-dependent histone deacetylation, resulting in high levels of histone acetylation in the Jra gene body region, thus promoting gene transcription. These results not only expand our knowledge towards the mechanism of c-Jun regulation, but also reveal the mechanism by which HP1a exerts its positive regulatory function in gene expression.

Handu, M., Kaduskar, B., Ravindranathan, R., Soory, A., Giri, R., Elango, V.B., Gowda, H. and Ratnaparkhi, G.S. (2015). SUMO enriched proteome for Drosophila innate immune response. G3 (Bethesda) [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed ID: 26290570
SUMO modification modulates the expression of defense genes in Drosophila, activated by the Toll/NF-κB and IMD/NF-κB signaling networks. There is however limited understanding of the SUMO modulated regulation of the immune response and lack of information on SUMO targets in the immune system. This study measured the changes to the SUMO proteome in S2 cells in response to an LPS challenge, identifying 1619 unique proteins in SUMO enriched lysates. A confident set of 710 proteins represents the immune induced SUMO proteome. A subset of the confident set were validated and shown to be bona-fide SUMO targets. These include components of immune signaling pathways such as Caspar, Jra, Kay, cdc42, p38b, 14-3-3ϵ, as also cellular proteins with diverse functions, many being components of protein complexes, such as prosβ4, Rps10b, SmD3, Tango7 and Aats-arg. This study is one of the first to describe SUMO proteome for the Drosophila immune response. These data and analysis provide a global framework for the understanding of SUMO modification in the host response to pathogens.
Monsanto-Hearne, V., Asad, S., Asgari, S. and Johnson, K. N. (2017). Drosophila microRNA modulates viral replication by targeting a homologue of mammalian cJun. J Gen Virol [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed ID: 28691661
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are important regulators of biological processes, including host-virus interaction. This study investigated the involvement of Drosophila miR-8-5p in host-virus interaction. Drosophila flies and cells challenged with Drosophila C virus (DCV) were found to have lower miR-8-5p abundance compared to uninfected samples. Lowering miR-8-5p abundance by experimental inhibition of the miRNA led to an increase in viral accumulation, suggesting that the observed decrease in the miR-8-5p abundance during DCV infection enhances viral replication. miR-8-5p putative targets were identified and included dJun. Increasing miR-8-5p abundance using miR-8-5p mimics resulted in a decrease in dJun and GFP reporter levels. Furthermore, when the putative target in dJun was mutated, addition of miR-8-5p mimics did not result in the same antagonistic effect on dJun. These results show negative regulation of dJun by miR-8-5p and suggest that an miRNA-mediated pathway is involved in dJun regulation during viral infection. To analyse the role of dJun during DCV infection, dJun was knocked down in cells prior to DCV infection. Knockdown of dJun decreased DCV replication, providing evidence that dJun up-regulation that is concomitant with miR-8-5p down-regulation during DCV infection supports viral replication. These results highlight the role of miRNA in regulating the transcription factor gene dJun and uncover a previously unrecognized mechanism by which dJun is regulated during host-virus interaction.

Mammalian JUN is a transcription factor and oncogene. It is activated through RAS/MAPK-mediated phosphorylation. In mammalian cells JUN interacts with FOS, another basic leucine zipper protein (See Drosophila Fos-related antigen). AP-1 is a FOS-JUN heterodimer that serve to activate genes involved in neural function and the immune response. Multiple FOS and JUN proteins are found in mammals. Most of the genes encoding AP-1 components behave as "immediate early" genes, that is, genes whose transcription is rapidly induced following cell stimuation, independent of de novo protein synthesis. JUN transcriptional activity is regulated by phosphorylation carried out by JUN kinase, which in turn is activated by phosphorylation cascades initiated by growth factor signals (Karin, 1995).

In the Drosophila eye, Jun-related antigen is activated through the Boss-Sevenless pathway. The ligand Boss is secreted by R8 photoreceptor cells and triggers a phosphorylation cascade through the receptor tyrosine kinase Sevenless. Sevenless is found on the surface of cells for only a limited time restricting the number of cells that can turn into photoreceptors (Treier, 1995). Similarly, Jun is upregulated on either side of the morphogenetic furrow (Bohmann, 1994), and thus acts in only a restricted number of cells. Sevenless signaling activates the RAS-MAPK pathway. Rolled MAPK in turn activates JRA, again by means of phosphorylation.

Jun-related antigen cooperates with the ETS domain protein Pointed to induce R7 fate in the developing eye. Jun-related antigen and Pointed are presumed to act on common targets to promote the R7 photoreceptor fate. After a decade of research, a role for Jun-related antigen has been found in only one phase of differentiation, the determination of the R7 photoreceptor. Where else is JUN involved in cell differentiation? The next decade may reveal more targets, following clues provided by an examination of the Jra promoter.

As in mammalian systems, Jun-related antigen is activated by AP-1, or said another way, it is subject to autoregulation. In addition, a cyclic AMP response element (CRE) is found, suggesting that Jra is responsive to regulation by CREB, the cyclic AMP response element binding protein. In fact, deletion of the CRE reduces by half the Jra promoter activity. The involvement of cAMP and CREB in Jra transcription suggests Jra is involved in memory. An additional three ecdysone response elements are found in an upstream region. Since ecdysone regulates molting this suggests that Jra is regulated during molting (Wang, 1994). This could implicate Jra in formation of adult neural structures.

The Drosophila homolog of c-Jun regulates epithelial cell shape changes during the process of dorsal closure in mid-embryogenesis. A mutation in Fra shows defects in dorsal closure and also interacts with mutations in Jra. Like Jra mutations, Fra null alleles completely block shape changes that normally occur in the leading edge of the lateral epithelium during dorsal closure. In dorsal closure, Fra cooperates with Jra by regulating the expression of dpp; Dpp acts as a relay signal that triggers cell shape changes and Fra expression in neighboring cells (Riesgo-Escovar, 1997b).

In vertebrates, c-Jun and c-Fos activities are regulated at various levels. Whereas c-Jun is widely expressed at low levels and activated primarily by NH2-terminal phosphorylation by JNKs, c-fos expression is dynamic and activated in response to various extracellular stimuli. A similar dichotomy of Jra and Fra regulation occurs in Drosophila: Jra is widely expressed during embryogenesis and is phosphorylated by DJNK (Basket), whereas Fra expression is dynamic. There is strong expression of Fra in leading edge cells and cells of the lateral epithelium. Expression of Fra in the lateral epithelium is reduced in thick veins and punt mutant embryos but is still detectable in the leading edge. Therefore, not only does Fra control expression of dpp in the leading edge, but in a reciprocal manner, Fra expression is dependent on Dpp function in cells of the lateral epithelium. Similarly, in late embryos, Fra expression in the endoderm depends on dpp expression in the overlying visceral mesoderm. Activation of the Dpp signaling pathway is indeed sufficient to activate Fra expression. Ectopic expression of an activated Dpp receptor (Thickveins) in a segmental pattern results in a corresponding pattern for Fra expression. It is concluded that Fra may be required in all ectodermal cells in order to activate target genes required for cell shape changes (Riesgo-Escovar, 1997b).

In addition to the joint requirement of Fra and Jra during dorsal closure, Fra functions independently of Jra during embryogenesis. Early dpp expression on the dorsal side of embryos induces expression of several genes, including race, which encodes a protein with homology to angiotensin-converting enzyme in the amnioserosa. The race cis-acting sequences required for dpp-mediated expression contain AP-1 binding sites. Consistent with Fra-mediated direct activation of race through these AP-1 sites, race expression in the amnioserosa is abolished in Fra mutants. In contrast, race expression is normal in Jra or basket mutant embryos. This early Jra-independent function of Fra may be mediated by a Fra homodimer. During wound healing in vertebrates (a process that exhibits parallels with dorsal closure), TGF-beta induces c-fos expression and AP-1 activity. The reciprocal regulatory relation between Fra and dpp in Drosophila appears to be conserved in mammalian cells. In mammalian myeloid cells, induction of c-jun and c-fos by serum or oncogenic v-src results in expression of TGF-beta1 by direction activation of TGF-beta1 transcription by AP1. TGF-beta induces AP-1 activity in keratinocytes during wound healing. These findings demonstrate common and distinct roles for Fra and Jra during embryogenesis and suggest a conserved link between AP-1 (activating protein-1) and TGF-beta (transforming growth factor-beta) signaling during epithelial cell shape changes (Riesgo-Escovar, 1997b).

Normal dendrite growth in Drosophila motor neurons requires the AP-1 transcription factor

During learning and memory formation, information flow through networks is regulated significantly through structural alterations in neurons. Dendrites, sites of signal integration, are key targets of activity-mediated modifications. Although local mechanisms of dendritic growth ensure synapse-specific changes, global mechanisms linking neural activity to nuclear gene expression may have profound influences on neural function. Fos, being an immediate-early gene, is ideally suited to be an initial transducer of neural activity, but a precise role for the AP-1 transcription factor in dendrite growth remains to be elucidated. This study measured changes in the dendritic fields of identified Drosophila motor neurons in vivo and in primary culture to investigate the role of the immediate-early transcription factor AP-1 in regulating endogenous and activity-induced dendrite growth. The data indicate that (1) increased neural excitability or depolarization stimulates dendrite growth, (2) AP-1 (a Fos, Jun heterodimer) is required for normal motor neuron dendritic growth during development and in response to activity induction, and (3) neuronal Fos protein levels are rapidly but transiently induced in motor neurons following neural activity. Taken together, these results show that AP-1 mediated transcription is important for dendrite growth, and that neural activity influences global dendritic growth through a gene-expression dependent mechanism gated by AP-1 (Hartwig, 2009).

Like CREB, AP-1 (Fos and Jun dimer) is likely to be an important activity-dependent regulator of dendritic plasticity. Fos is upregulated rapidly in neuronal populations following activity and can generate a rapid genomic response to incoming stimuli since it is an immediate-early gene not requiring protein synthesis for its own induction. At the Drosophila NMJ AP-1 controls both structural and functional aspects of long-term plasticity (Hartwig, 2009).

To test if AP-1 plays a role in activity-dependent dendritic plasticity, experimental systems were established to study dendrites of the RP2 motor neuron in vivo in the larval CNS, and this was complemented with an in vitro culture system using a strategy to enrich for larval motor neurons. This dual analysis utilizes technical strengths of both systems and permits cross-validation of results. Results reported in this study support three main conclusions: (1) motor neuron dendrites in Drosophila show activity, or depolarization, dependent plasticity, (2) normal dendrite growth requires AP-1, and (3) activity or depolarization driven dendritic growth is gated by AP-1 (Hartwig, 2009).

It was important to initially establish that motor neuron dendrites in Drosophila display robust changes in response to neural activity. Both pharmacological and genetic manipulations were used to alter neural activity in vivo and in vitro. Maintaining cultured motor neurons in high K+ medium enhanced the growth of neurites that have the characteristics of dendrites. Expression of dominant-negative subunits of the potassium channels Eag and Sh, increased excitability and caused increased dendrite growth both in vivo and in vitro. These experiments suggest that a conserved mechanism of plasticity operates in these motor neurons to regulate dendritic growth. Additionally, by developing the first assay for activity-stimulated dendritic growth in Drosophila, a wide range of experiments were enabled to further dissect underlying signaling and cell biological pathways (Hartwig, 2009).

It is worth noting that the cell culture approach allowed the comparison of acute depolarization (high potassium) with the more chronic alteration of excitability caused by the expression of eag and shaker dominant-negative transgenes. Despite the interesting possibility of compensatory changes following long-term transgenic manipulations, the functional properties of larval motor neurons in vivo were stably altered by reducing potassium channel function. By contrast, the effects of elevated potassium reflect an acute manipulation after cells are placed in culture. In spite of these differences the effects of expression of a recombinant including both UAS-Sh(DN) and UAS-eag(DN) termed 'Electrical Knock In (EKI)' on cell growth in vitro were similar to those induced by elevated potassium. The lack of an effect on outgrowth by UAS-Sh(DN) and UAS-Sh[act] (EKO) expression may reflect a cellular compensatory mechanism. Although effects on cell physiology were detected, the difference in excitability measured in vivo was not significant. Two alternatives are that there is a basal level of normal growth that is not activity-sensitive, or that reduced activity had an influence on growth or branching that the analysis did not detect (Hartwig, 2009).

It is suggested that the depolarization by high potassium or the increased excitability caused by EKI expression would lead to an increase in calcium influx through voltage-dependent channels. The voltage-dependent properties of Eag and Shaker potassium channels suggest that EKI expression would not necessarily be expected to alter the resting membrane potential. Even without altering the resting membrane potential, however, the reduction in voltage-dependent potassium currents might allow increased calcium influx in response to spontaneous depolarization or calcium waves. This would be augmented, in vivo, by the higher action potential frequency evoked by depolarization of motor neurons in EKI larvae as compared to wild type. It is also possible that the expression of eag-DN alters a modulatory function of the potassium channel subunit. Consistent with this hypothesis, it was found that inhibiting PLTX-sensitive calcium channels prevents EKI mediated neurite outgrowth. A similar dependence of neuronal growth on calcium channels has been demonstrated convincingly in the Drosophila giant neuron culture system. Ultimately, it will be important to establish the specific parameters of activity and calcium flux that are essential for modulating the intracellular signals that mediate growth plasticity (Hartwig, 2009).

It has been shown previously that AP-1 regulates synaptic plasticity at Drosophila motor terminals. The present results uncover a role for AP-1 in regulating dendritic growth. Reduction of AP-1 activity decreases, while enhancement of AP-1 increases, dendritic outgrowth in vivo and in vitro. These conclusions are further strengthened by the fact that known and predicted loss-of-function alleles of kayak (DFos) also reduce dendrite volume significantly, when present in heterozygous combinations with wild-type alleles. It is to be noted that these mutations in Fos are homozygous lethal at early developmental stages, and transgenic strategies for tissue specific genetic manipulations are especially useful in these contexts. Additionally, multiple Fos isoforms have been reported, and using a dominant negative construct offers a good way to inhibit these multiple Fos proteins. In conclusion, the observations that (1) Fos is normally detectable in motor neuron nuclei, (2) Fbz, Jbz and Fos-RNAi inhibit and AP-1 increases dendrite growth, (3) loss-of-function alleles of kayak decrease dendrite volume, and (4) a variety of controls validate the genetic perturbations used in this study, strongly suggest that AP-1 functions physiologically to control dendrite growth (Hartwig, 2009).

To test if neural activity driven growth requires AP-1 dependent transcription, AP-1 function was inhibitied in a background of elevated neural activity. The results indicate that neural activity induced dendrite growth is completely abolished in vivo by the coexpression of Fbz. Further, in vitro experiments with High K+ induced dendrite growth show that expression of either the domainant negative bZip domain of either dFos or dJun (Fbz or Jbz) substantially reduces the extent of depolarization induced growth. The results also indicate that the extent of overgrowth seen through AP-1 induction cannot be increased any further by High K+ induced depolarization. Furthermore, calcium channel inhibition by PLTX toxin does not preclude AP-1 driven neurite growth, suggesting that AP-1 functions downstream of neural activity and calcium entry to enhance neurite growth. These results are consistent with the idea that AP-1 is a major contributor to activity-induced plasticity of dendrites (Hartwig, 2009).

Finally, to ascertain the mechanism by which neural activity might influence AP-1 function, expression of Fos protein was tested following acute induction of activity in cultured motor neurons. Fos protein levels are increased by ~35% as compared to uninduced controls. This induction is rapid, occurring within 4 h, but transient, since Fos levels return to baseline during 20 h of stimulation. Although modest, this change in cellular Fos levels is consistent with previous observations and suggests, though it does not prove, a model where neural activity recruits AP-1 possibly through synthesis of new Fos protein, to promote dendrite growth. Hence, the results confirm that AP-1, positively regulates plasticity in postsynaptic compartments, as has been demonstrated for presynaptic terminals, and establishes AP-1 as a key component in activity-dependent neuronal plasticity (Hartwig, 2009).

A key goal for future studies must be to determine how neural activity is translated into transcription factor activity. Calcium dependent signaling is arguably the most important pathway for the activation of both CREB and Mef2A, two transcription factors that influence plasticity in opposite ways, as well as AP-1. A second question is that of interaction between transcription factors. Transcriptional regulation of Fos by CREB (and vice versa) has been described in some detail, but the temporal sequence in which these proteins function or their relative importance in plasticity have not been assayed rigorously in the same preparation. Finally, further experiments to identify the downstream targets of these transcription factors, will enable the description of a composite transcription factor network that mediates protein synthesis during long-term neural plasticity (Hartwig, 2009).


cDNA clone length - 1700

Exons - one


Amino Acids - 289

Structural Domains

The JRA protein is 58% homologous to human proto-oncogene cJUN and has high homology in both the basic DNA binding and leucine zipper regions (Perkins, 1988, Zhang, 1990 and Wang, 1994).

Jra Evolutionary Homologs | Regulation | Developmental Biology | Effects of Mutation | References
date revised:   10 Feb 98
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