basket/JNK: Evolutionary Homologs | Regulation | Protein Interactions | Developmental Biology | Effects of Mutation | References

Gene name - basket

Synonyms - Jun amino terminal kinase (DJNK)

Cytological map position - 31B-C

Function - MAP kinase - Jun N-terminal kinase

Keywords - dorsal closure, immune response, JNK pathway

Symbol - bsk

FlyBase ID:FBgn0000229

Genetic map position - 2-32

Classification - MAP kinase homolog

Cellular location - cytoplasmic and nuclear



NCBI links: Precomputed BLAST | Entrez Gene | UniGene |

Recent literature
Huang, J. and Xue, L. (2015). Loss of flfl triggers JNK-dependent cell death in Drosophila. Biomed Res Int 2015: 623573. PubMed ID: 26583122
Summary:
falafel (flfl) encodes a Drosophila homolog of human SMEK whose in vivo functions remain elusive. Gain-of-function and loss-of-function analysis was performed in in Drosophila and flfl was identified as a negative regulator of JNK pathway-mediated cell death. While ectopic expression of flfl suppresses TNF-triggered JNK-dependent cell death, loss of flfl promotes JNK activation and cell death in the developing eye and wing. These data report for the first time an essential physiological function of flfl in maintaining tissue homeostasis and organ development. As the JNK signaling pathway has been evolutionary conserved from fly to human, a similar role of PP4R3 in JNK-mediated physiological process is speculated.

Bornstein, B., et al. (2015). Developmental axon pruning requires destabilization of cell adhesion by JNK signaling. Neuron 88: 926-940. PubMed ID: 26586184
Summary:
Developmental axon pruning is essential for normal brain wiring in vertebrates and invertebrates. How axon pruning occurs in vivo is not well understood. In a mosaic loss-of-function screen, this study found that Bsk, the Drosophila JNK, is required for axon pruning of mushroom body γ neurons, but not their dendrites. By combining in vivo genetics, biochemistry, and high-resolution microscopy, this study demonstrated that the mechanism by which Bsk is required for pruning is through reducing the membrane levels of the adhesion molecule Fasciclin II (FasII), the NCAM ortholog. Conversely, overexpression of FasII is sufficient to inhibit axon pruning. Finally, this study showed that overexpressing other cell adhesion molecules, together with weak attenuation of JNK signaling, strongly inhibits pruning. Taken together, this study uncovered a novel and unexpected interaction between the JNK pathway and cell adhesion and found that destabilization of cell adhesion is necessary for efficient pruning.

Khoshnood, B., Dacklin, I. and Grabbe, C. (2015). Urm1: an essential regulator of JNK signaling and oxidative stress in Drosophila melanogaster. Cell Mol Life Sci [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed ID: 26715182
Summary:
Ubiquitin-related modifier 1 (Urm1) is a ubiquitin-like molecule (UBL) with the dual capacity to act both as a sulphur carrier and posttranslational protein modifier. This study characterizes the Drosophila homologues of Urm1 (CG33276) and its E1 activating enzyme Uba4 (CG13090) and shows that they function together to induce protein urmylation in vivo. Urm1 conjugation to target proteins in general, and to the evolutionary conserved substrate Peroxiredoxin 5 (Prx5) specifically, is dependent on Uba4. A complete loss of Urm1 is lethal in flies, although a small number of adult zygotic Urm1 n123 mutant escapers can be recovered. These escapers display a decreased general fitness and shortened lifespan, but in contrast to their S. cerevisiae counterparts, they are resistant to oxidative stress. Providing a molecular explanation, this study demonstrates that cytoprotective JNK signaling is increased in Urm1 deficient animals. In agreement, molecular and genetic evidence suggest that elevated activity of the JNK downstream target genes Jafrac1 (thioredoxin peroxidase 1) and gstD1 (Glutathione S transferase D1) strongly contributes to the tolerance against oxidative stress displayed by Urm1 n123 null mutants. In conclusion, Urm1 is a UBL that is involved in the regulation of JNK signaling and the response against oxidative stress in the fruit fly.

Clemente-Ruiz, M., Murillo-Maldonado, J.M., Benhra, N., Barrio, L., Pérez, L., Quiroga, G., Nebreda, A.R. and Milán, M. (2016). Gene dosage imbalance contributes to chromosomal instability-induced tumorigenesis. Dev Cell 36: 290-302. PubMed ID: 26859353
Summary:
Chromosomal instability (CIN) is thought to be a source of mutability in cancer. However, CIN often results in aneuploidy, which compromises cell fitness. This study used the dosage compensation mechanism (DCM) of Drosophila to demonstrate that chromosome-wide gene dosage imbalance contributes to the deleterious effects of CIN-induced aneuploidy and its pro-tumorigenic action. Resetting of the DCM counterbalances the damaging effects caused by CIN-induced changes in X chromosome number. Importantly, interfering with the DCM suffices to mimic the cellular effects of aneuploidy in terms of reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, JNK-dependent cell death, and tumorigenesis upon apoptosis inhibition. A role of ROS was found in JNK activation and a variety of cellular and tissue-wide mechanisms that buffer the deleterious effects of CIN, including DNA-damage repair, activation of the p38 pathway, and cytokine induction were found to promote compensatory proliferation. These data reveal the existence of robust compensatory mechanisms that counteract CIN-induced cell death and tumorigenesis.
Lim, B., Dsilva, C. J., Kevrekidis, I. G. and Shvartsman, S. Y. (2017). Reconstructing ERK signaling in the Drosophila embryo from fixed images. Methods Mol Biol 1487: 337-351. PubMed ID: 27924579
Summary:
The early Drosophila embryo provides unique opportunities for quantitative studies of ERK signaling. This system is characterized by simple anatomy, the ease of obtaining large numbers of staged embryos, and the availability of powerful tools for genetic manipulation of the ERK pathway. This paper describes how these experimental advantages can be combined with recently developed microfluidic devices for high throughput imaging of ERK activation dynamics. Focus was placed on the stage during the third hour of development, when ERK activation is essential for patterning of the future nerve cord. This approach starts with an ensemble of fixed embryos stained with an antibody that recognizes the active, dually phosphorylated form of ERK. Each embryo in this ensemble provides a snapshot of the spatial and temporal pattern of ERK activation during development. Then the ages of fixed embryos are quantitatively estimated using a model that links their morphology and developmental time. This model is learned based on live imaging of cellularization and gastrulation, two highly stereotyped morphogenetic processes at this stage of embryogenesis. Applying this approach, ERK signaling can be characterized at high spatial and temporal resolution. This methodology can be readily extended to studies of ERK regulation and function in multiple mutant backgrounds, providing a versatile assay for quantitative studies of developmental ERK signaling.
Nitta, Y. and Sugie, A. (2017). DISCO interacting protein 2 determines direction of axon projection under the regulation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase in the Drosophila mushroom body. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. PubMed ID: 28396149
Summary:
Precisely controlled axon guidance for complex neuronal wiring is essential for appropriate neuronal function. c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) was found to play a role in axon guidance recently as well as in cell proliferation, protection and apoptosis. In spite of many genetic and molecular studies on these biological processes regulated by JNK, how JNK regulates axon guidance accurately has not been fully explained thus far. To address this question, this study used the Drosophila mushroom body (MB) as a model since the α/β axons project in two distinct directions. This study showns that DISCO interacting protein 2 (DIP2) is required for the accurate direction of axonal guidance. DIP2 expression is under the regulation of Basket (Bsk), the Drosophila homologue of JNK. The Bsk/DIP2 pathway is independent from the AP-1 transcriptional factor complex pathway, which is directly activated by Bsk. In conclusion, these findings revealed DIP2 as a novel effector downstream of Bsk modulating the direction of axon projection.
Ma, X., Lu, J. Y., Dong, Y., Li, D., Malagon, J. N. and Xu, T. (2017). PP6 disruption synergizes with oncogenic Ras to promote JNK-dependent tumor growth and invasion. Cell Rep 19(13): 2657-2664. PubMed ID: 28658615
Summary:
RAS genes are frequently mutated in cancers, yet an effective treatment has not been developed, partly because of an incomplete understanding of signaling within Ras-related tumors. To address this, a genetic screen was performed in Drosophila, aiming to find mutations that cooperate with oncogenic Ras (RasV12) to induce tumor overgrowth and invasion. fiery mountain (fmt; CG10289), a regulatory subunit of the protein phosphatase 6 (PP6) complex, was identified as a tumor suppressor that synergizes with RasV12 to drive c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK)-dependent tumor growth and invasiveness. Fmt was shown to negatively regulate JNK upstream of dTAK1. It was further demonstrated that disruption of PpV, the catalytic subunit of PP6, mimics fmt loss-of-function-induced tumorigenesis. Finally, Fmt synergizes with PpV to inhibit JNK-dependent tumor progression. These data here further highlight the power of Drosophila as a model system to unravel molecular mechanisms that may be relevant to human cancer biology.
Bushnell, H. L., Feiler, C. E., Ketosugbo, K. F., Hellerman, M. B., Nazzaro, V. L. and Johnson, R. I. (2017). JNK is antagonized to ensure the correct number of interommatidial cells pattern the Drosophila retina. Dev Biol [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed ID: 29133184
Summary:
Apoptosis is crucial during the morphogenesis of most organs and tissues, and is utilized for tissues to achieve their proper size, shape and patterning. Many signaling pathways contribute to the precise regulation of apoptosis. This study shows that Jun N-terminal Kinase (JNK) activity contributes to the coordinated removal of interommatidial cells via apoptosis in the Drosophila pupal retina. This is consistent with previous findings that JNK activity promotes apoptosis in other epithelia. However, JNK activity was found to be repressed by Cindr (the CIN85 and CD2AP ortholog) in order to promote cell survival. Reducing the amount of Cindr resulted in ectopic cell death. Increased expression of the Drosophila JNK basket in the setting of reduced cindr expression was found to result in even more severe apoptosis, whilst ectopic death was found to be reduced if retinas were heterozygous for basket. Hence Cindr is required to properly restrict JNK-mediated apoptosis in the pupal eye, resulting in the correct number of interommatidial cells. A lack of precise control over developmental apoptosis can lead to improper tissue morphogenesis.
Ogura, Y., Wen, F. L., Sami, M. M., Shibata, T. and Hayashi, S. (2018). A switch-like activation relay of EGFR-ERK signaling regulates a wave of cellular contractility for epithelial invagination. Dev Cell 46(2): 162-172.e165. PubMed ID: 29983336
Summary:
The dynamics of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling underlies its versatile functions in cell differentiation, cell proliferation, and cell motility. Classical studies in Drosophila established that a gradient of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-ERK signaling is essential for these cellular responses. However, this study challenges this view by the real-time monitoring of ERK activation; a switch-like ERK activation is shown to be essential for the invagination movement of the Drosophila tracheal placode. This switch-like ERK activation stems from the positive feedback regulation of the EGFR-ERK signaling and a resultant relay of EGFR-ERK signaling among tracheal cells. A key transcription factor Trachealess (Trh) permissively regulates the iteration of the relay, and the ERK activation becomes graded in trh mutant. A mathematical model based on these observations and a molecular link between ERK activation dynamics and myosin shows that the relay mechanism efficiently promotes epithelial invagination while the gradient mechanism does not.
Chi, C., Wang, L., Lan, W., Zhao, L. and Su, Y. (2018). PpV, acting via the JNK pathway, represses apoptosis during normal development of Drosophila wing. Apoptosis. PubMed ID: 30159848
Summary:
Apoptosis is one of the main fundamental biological processes required for development of multicellular organisms. Inappropriate regulation of apoptosis can lead to severe developmental abnormalities and diseases. Therefore, the control of apoptosis, not only for its activation but also for its inhibition, is critically important during development. In contrast to the extensive studies of apoptosis induction, its inhibitory mechanisms that are even more vital in certain populations of cells actually are very far from being well understood. This study reports an inhibitory role of protein phosphatase V (PpV), a serine/threonine protein phosphatase, in controlling the apoptosis during Drosophila wing development. Inhibition of ppv by RNAi in wing imaginal discs induced ectopic cell death and caspase activation, thus, resulted in a defective adult wing. Moreover, knocking-down ppv triggered the activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) signal, an evolutionarily conserved intracellular signaling that has been implicated to modulate the apoptotic machinery in many biological and experimental systems. Disrupting the JNK signal transduction was adequate to suppress the ppv effects for wing development. Together, this study provides the evidence to demonstrate that ppv is required for normal wing development in maintaining the silence of apoptotic signal possibly through JNK pathway.
Wang, X., Huang, X., Wu, C. and Xue, L. (2018). Pontin/Tip49 negatively regulates JNK-mediated cell death in Drosophila. Cell Death Discov 5: 8. PubMed ID: 30062057
Summary:
Pontin (Pont), also known as Tip49, encodes a member of the AAA+ (ATPases Associated with Diverse Cellular Activities) superfamily and plays pivotal roles in cell proliferation and growth, yet its function in cell death has remained poorly understood. This study performed a genetic screen for dominant modifiers of Eiger-induced JNK-dependent cell death in Drosophila, and identified Pont as a negative regulator of JNK-mediated cell death. In addition, loss of function of Pont is sufficient to induce cell death and activate the transcription of JNK target gene puc. Furthermore, the epistasis analysis indicates that Pont acts downstream of Hep. Finally, this study found that Pont is also required for JNK-mediated thorax development and acts as a negative regulator of JNK phosphorylation. Together, these data suggest that pont encodes a negative component of Egr/JNK signaling pathway in Drosophila through negatively regulating JNK phosphorylation, which provides a novel role of ATPase in Egr-JNK signaling.
Moreno, E., Valon, L., Levillayer, F. and Levayer, R. (2019). Competition for space induces cell elimination through compaction-driven ERK downregulation. Curr Biol 29(1): 23-34. PubMed ID: 30554899
Summary:
The plasticity of developing tissues relies on the adjustment of cell survival and growth rate to environmental cues. This includes the effect of mechanical cues on cell survival. Accordingly, compaction of an epithelium can lead to cell extrusion and cell death. This process was proposed to contribute to tissue homeostasis but also to facilitate the expansion of pretumoral cells through the compaction and elimination of the neighboring healthy cells. However, very little is known about the pathways that can trigger apoptosis upon tissue deformation, and the contribution of compaction-driven death to clone expansion has never been assessed in vivo. Using the Drosophila pupal notum and a new live sensor of ERK, it was shown first that tissue compaction induces cell elimination through the downregulation of epidermal growth factor receptor/extracellular signal regulated kinase (EGFR/ERK) pathway and the upregulation of the pro-apoptotic protein Hid. Those results suggest that the sensitivity of EGFR/ERK pathway to mechanics could play a more general role in the fine tuning of cell elimination during morphogenesis and tissue homeostasis. Second, the contribution of compaction-driven death to pretumoral cell expansion was assessed in vivo. The activation of the oncogene Ras in clones was found to downregulate ERK and activate apoptosis in the neighboring cells through their compaction, which eventually contributes to Ras clone expansion. The mechanical modulation of EGFR/ERK during growth-mediated competition for space may contribute to tumor progression.
BIOLOGICAL OVERVIEW

For many years immunologists have held the view that the primary goal of the immune system is discrimination between self and non-self. Because Drosophila does not have an immunoglobulin-based immune response, the fly affords a unique opportunity to examine the nature of an immune system that evolved prior to the evolution of immunoglobulin as a primary driving force in an organism's response to pathogens. An examination of Drosophila suggests that an inducible system exists and it is based on the need to detect and protect against danger. The immunologist Matzinger (1994) has argued that such a system also remains functional as a controlling influence in the vertebrate immune response, in addition to the immunoglobulin-based system. The protein JNK is one of the pivotal actors in the Drosophila immune response, and appears to be functionally conserved in the vertebrate immune response as well. What does JNK do in both Drosophila and vertebrates, and what does this teach about the nature of the immune response?

Before taking a closer look at basket/JNK, a word on the pathway in which it functions is in order. Cascades of mitogen activated protein kinases (MAPKs) transduce signals from multiple extracellular stimuli, mediating responses such as cell proliferation, differentiation, and the regulation of metabolic pathways. There are multiple MAPKs in eukaryotes. In Drosophila, two such pathways have been identified. The first is a MAPK pathway involving Ras and Rolled, two components of the Ras pathway. It is required at least three times during development: as the terminal system which mediates responses to the Torso receptor, as neurogenic and wing vein pathways mediate responses to the EGF-receptor, and for the differentiation of photoreceptors, which mediate responses to the Sevenless receptor.

The second MAPK pathway in Drosophila involves the MAPK called Jun-N-terminal kinase (DJNK), also known as Basket. This pathway involves an additional kinase, Hemipterous, which serves to phosphorylate DJNK. Both proteins are required for dorsal closure, the sealing of the dorsal region of the embryo late in embryonic development. Dorsal closure involves coordinated changes in the shape of ectodermal cells, driven by cytoskeletal changes. (For a discussion of dorsal closure see Hemipterous). The phosphorylation cascade involving HEP and DJUN terminates in the phosphorylation of DJUN. Both DJNK and DJUN are activated in the the immune response of the fly. DJNK is closely associated on chromosome 2 with dror, a Drosophila receptor tyrosine kinase homolog of vertebrate TRK kinases, which mediate responses to neurotropins. Close chromosomal linkage often, but not always, occurs as a consequence of shared developmental function.

Regulation of JNK by Src during Drosophila development

Basket (Bsk) is regulated by Src during dorsal closure. Mutants for Src42A, a Drosophila c-src protooncogene homolog, are described. Src42A functions in epidermal closure during both embryogenesis and metamorphosis. The severity of the epidermal closure defect in the Src42A mutant depends on the amount of Bsk activity, and the amount of Bsk activity depends on the amount of Src42A. Thus, activation of the Bsk pathway is required downstream of Src42A in epidermal closure. This work confirms mammalian studies that demonstrate a physiological link between Src and JNK (Tateno, 2000).

Genes that regulate cell shape changes in Drosophila are required for dorsal closure of the embryonic epidermis and thorax closure of the pupal epidermis. Mutations in genes such as hemipterous (hep) and basket (bsk, also known as DJNK) result in abnormal embryos with a dorsal hole or abnormal adults with a dorsal midline cleft. Hep and Bsk are homologous to the mammalian MKK7 (MAPK kinase 7) and JNK, and they are components of a MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) cascade. Although the role of the Hep-Bsk cascade during dorsal closure has been extensively studied, the upstream trigger of this cascade is poorly understood. To identify the trigger, a screen was carried out for mutants showing the dorsal midline cleft phenotype, like a mild hep mutant. The mutant for Src42A shows this phenotype and Src42A regulates Bsk during Drosophila development (Tateno, 2000).

One line, Jp45, from the mutant collection of the P-element-inserted semilethal lines has been identified that survives to adulthood but shows various degrees of the dorsal midline cleft phenotype. Excision of the P-element eliminates the semilethality and restores the cleft phenotype. The P-element is inserted in the 5' untranslated region (UTR) of the Src42A gene, which encodes a Src-family nonreceptor tyrosine kinase. Ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS) mutant screening was used to isolate two strong alleles of Src42A, Src42AE1 and Src42Amyristylation (myri). In Src42AE1, a stop codon at codon 483 eliminates the COOH-terminal part of the kinase domain of Src42A. Src42Amyri has a point mutation in codon 2, which causes an amino acid substitution from Gly2 to Asp. Gly2 is conserved in all members of the Src family and must be myristylated for localization of Src to the cellular membrane in mammals. About 50% of the Src42Amyri homozygotes die before they hatch, and most of the remainder die during the first-instar larval stage. Therefore, Gly2 is required for development (Tateno, 2000).

Because the adult Src42AJp45 phenotype resembles that of hep, it was suspected that Src42A is involved in Hep and Bsk function. A mutation in hep or bsk dominantly enhances the lethality and the phenotypic severity of Src42AJp45 homozygotes. Conversely, reducing the gene dosage of puckered (puc), a gene encoding a phosphatase that inactivates Bsk, suppresses the lethality and the severity of the cleft phenotype of Src42AJp45. Thus, Src42A may function in the Bsk pathway during metamorphosis (Tateno, 2000).

Dorsal closure is the process by which a pair of epidermal layers elongate dorsally and fuse at the dorsal midline of the embryo. This process is not completed in hep and bsk mutants, yielding a dorsal open phenotype. Strong Src42A mutants do not show the dorsal open phenotype but display malformed mouth parts. This defect is similar to the defect in the embryo of the Tec29 mutant. Tec29 is a Src-related nonreceptor tyrosine kinase and is regulated by SRC64, another Drosophila Src homolog, during oogenesis. Thus, Tec29 may be involved in the function of Src42A. A mutation in Tec29 dominantly enhances the lethality of Src42AJp45 (Tateno, 2000).

Furthermore, the Tec29 Src42A double mutant shows complete embryonic lethality, and a certain fraction of the dead embryos show the dorsal open phenotype. Activated DJun, a transcription factor downstream of Bsk, partially rescues the dorsal open phenotype in the Tec29 Src42A double mutant. Thus, Src42A appears to regulate Bsk in the fusion of epithelial sheets during embryogenesis and metamorphosis, and Tec29 is involved in this regulation. The double mutant for Src64 and Src42A manifests a mild but clear dorsal open phenotype, which suggests a functional redundancy between Src64 and Src42A (Tateno, 2000).

Expression of puc is known to be induced by the Bsk signal. In the wing disc of the wild-type third-instar larva, puc is expressed in the dorsal midline of the adult notum. In the wing disc of the Src42AJp45 mutant, puc expression is reduced. In contrast, larvae with a constitutively activated form of Src42A (Src42ACA) shows ectopic expression of puc. Further, introduction of a hep null mutation reduces the amount of ectopic puc expression. It is known that Bsk induces expression of puc and decapentaplegic (dpp) during embryonic dorsal closure. The embryos of the Tec29 Src42A double mutant do not show any puc or dpp expression in the leading edge cells. These results indicate that Src42A, Tec29, Hep, and Bsk regulate dpp and puc expression during embryonic dorsal closure (Tateno, 2000).

To investigate the ability of Src42ACA to activate Bsk, the amount of phosphorylated Bsk was directly assessed by immunoblot analysis. Forced expression of Src42ACA does not affect the quantity of total Bsk protein but induces more phosphorylated Bsk than the controls. Thus, Src42A appears to regulate the phosphorylation level of Bsk (Tateno, 2000).

During embryonic dorsal closure, the Hep-Bsk signal is required for elongation of the leading edge cells. In the absence of the Bsk signal, these cells do not fully elongate. The accumulation of F-actin and phosphotyrosine (P-Tyr) in leading edge cells is associated with the elongation of these cells. Accumulation of these substances is disturbed in the DJun and the puc mutants. In the double mutant for Tec29 and Src42A, the leading edge cells contain reduced quantities of F-actin and P-Tyr, and these cells are only partially elongated. Thus, the defect in embryonic dorsal closure in the Tec29 Src42A double mutant is caused by this failure in cell shape change, as is the case in the DJun mutant (Tateno, 2000).

A model is proposed in which Src42A, upon receiving an unidentified signal, activates the Hep-Bsk pathway to regulate cell shape change and epidermal layer movement. This is consistent with the observation in mammals that c-Src regulates the cell morphogenetic and migratory processes and is known to activate JNK. As in Drosophila, c-Src definitely affects F-actin organization and P-Tyr localization during cell morphogenesis. Therefore, Src regulation of JNK activity toward a change in cell shape may be conserved (Tateno, 2000).

It can be also interpreted that Src42A acts upstream of DFos, a dimerization partner of DJun. Although the Src42A, Tec29, and Src64 single mutants do not show a dorsal open phenotype, the DFos mutant clearly exhibits it. This relationship is also analogous to that in mammals. Both c-src and c-fos knockout mice have a similar defect, osteopetrosis caused by reduced osteoclast function. But the phenotypic severity is milder in c-src than in c-fos knockouts; this can be explained by the functional overlap in multiple Src-family tyrosine kinases. Accordingly, in both Drosophila and mammals, multiple nonreceptor tyrosine kinases may cooperate to regulate the function of the Jun/Fos complex (Tateno, 2000).

Cell competition modifies adult stem cell and tissue population dynamics in a JAK-STAT-dependent manner

Throughout their lifetime, cells may suffer insults that reduce their fitness and disrupt their function, and it is unclear how these potentially harmful cells are managed in adult tissues. This question was addressed using the adult Drosophila posterior midgut as a model of homeostatic tissue and ribosomal Minute mutations to reduce fitness in groups of cells. A quantitative approach was taken, combining lineage tracing and biophysical modeling, and how cell competition affects stem cell and tissue population dynamics was addressed. Healthy cells were shown to induce clonal extinction in weak tissues, targeting both stem and differentiated cells for elimination. It was also found that competition induces stem cell proliferation and self-renewal in healthy tissue, promoting selective advantage and tissue colonization. Finally, winner cell proliferation was shown to be fueled by the JAK-STAT ligand Unpaired-3, produced by Minute-/+ cells in response to chronic JNK stress signaling (Kolahgar, 2015).

Recent studies have shown that cell competition can also take place in adult tissues. This work has taken this notion forward and delineated quantitatively how adult stem cells and tissue population dynamics are affected by cell competition. In the subfit population, differentiated cells are killed by apoptosis followed by cell delamination; stem cells are also eliminated, possibly via induction of differentiation, as dying stem cells have not been detected. In parallel, as this study has shown, the healthy tissue expands due to an increase in stem cell proliferation and self-renewal. Indeed, biophysical modeling shows that changes in these parameters of a magnitude comparable to what observed experimentally is sufficient to recapitulate the stem cell dynamics of wild-type tissue undergoing Minute cell competition. Interestingly, accelerated proliferation of fitter stem cells has been seen in mouse embryonic stem cells using in vitro models of cell competition. However, in those studies, increased stem cell self-renewal has not been observed, probably because stemness in vitro is artificially maintained by exogenous factors in the culture medium (Kolahgar, 2015).

In many adult homeostatic tissues, stem cells stochastically differentiate or self-renew, and this leads to clonal extinction balanced by clonal expansion. This is known as neutral drift competition, because through this process, stem cell compartments stochastically tend toward monoclonality. It has also been shown that stem cell competition can be nonneutral (i.e., biased) when stem cells acquire a cell-autonomous advantage. In these cases, the bias derives from intrinsic differences (e.g., faster proliferation) and does not rely on cell interactions. This study shows instead that in adult homeostatically maintained tissues, competitive cell interactions can act as extrinsic cues that actively modify stem cell behavior, and that this confers on winners an advantage (e.g., as this study observed, increased proliferation rate and self-renewal) and on losers a disadvantage (e.g., as observed induced cell death), influencing tissue colonization. It is important to note that clones of wild-type cells that have lost proliferative capability because they are devoid of ISCs are equally able to induce death in neighboring M/+cells. This rules out the possibility that physical displacement due to a faster clonal expansion is the cause of cell competition in this case. This process instead, like the recent reports of cell competition in the mouse heart and fly nervous system, likely corresponds to the adult equivalent of the cellular competition observed in developing tissues (Kolahgar, 2015).

This work shows that M/+ midguts suffer from a chronic inflammatory response, which through JNK signaling activation and the ensuing production of the JAK-STAT ligand Upd-3 promotes wild-type tissue overgrowth. Thus, in this tissue, the overproliferation of winner cells stems from the increased availability of proliferative signals in the M/+ environment. The results suggest that wild-type cells respond more efficiently than M/+ cells to this proliferation stimulus, and that this difference results in their preferential overgrowth, contributing to cell competition. It has long been suggested that cell competition may result from the limiting availability of growth factors, which would compromise the viability of loser cells. Here it was instead found that excess production of a growth factor (Upd-3) can boost cell competition by promoting preferential proliferation of fitter cells. Given that JNK and JAK-STAT are frequently activated in response to stress or deleterious mutations, it would be interesting to test whether this is a general mechanism used by loser cells to promote the overgrowth of fitter neighbors. Notably, differences in JAK-STAT signaling are sufficient to trigger cell competition and, consistent with this, reducing JAK-STAT signaling in wild-type cells compromises their ability to eliminate scribble/losers. Thus, increased JAK-STAT signaling may in addition provide wild-type cells with a heightened fitness state and help promote the elimination of M/losers (Kolahgar, 2015).

Ribosomal mutations are linked with many adult disorders, not just in Drosophila but more importantly in humans, where they are associated with a number of severe pathologies, collectively known as ribosomopathies. Given that 79 proteins make up the eukaryotic ribosome (and several more are involved in ribosomal production) and that many Minute mutations are dominant, the sporadic insurgence of M/+ in adult tissues is likely to be one of the most common spontaneous generations of somatic mutant cells in our bodies. The elimination of these cells via cell competition is likely to play an unappreciated role in maintaining healthy adult tissues (Kolahgar, 2015).

A striking feature emerging from the results is that, in response to cell competition, normal cells can efficiently repopulate adult tissues, thus effectively replacing potentially diseased cells. This bears striking resemblance to the phenomenon of mosaic revertants, observed in a number of human skin and blood diseases. Spontaneous sporadic reversion of genetically inherited, disease-bearing mutations leads to the generation of revertant cells, which effectively repopulate tissues, at times ameliorating the condition. In some instances, the revertants' expansion is so efficient that selective advantage has been. Intriguingly, ichthyosis with confetti, a skin disease characterized by confetti-like appearance of revertant skin spots, is associated with a mutation in Keratin 10, which, due to its nucleolar mislocalization, could affect ribosome production similar to M-/+mutants. Thus, based on these findings, it is tentative to speculate that selective advantage in mosaic revertants could in some cases be driven by cell competition (Kolahgar, 2015).

The work shows that M/+ midguts suffer from a chronic inflammatory response, which through JNK signaling activation and the ensuing production of the JAK-STAT ligand Upd-3 promotes wild-type tissue overgrowth. Thus, in this tissue, the overproliferation of winner cells stems from the increased availability of proliferative signals in the M/+ environment. The results suggest that wild-type cells respond more efficiently than M/+ cells to this proliferation stimulus, and that this difference results in their preferential overgrowth, contributing to cell competition. It has long been suggested that cell competition may result from the limiting availability of growth factors, which would compromise the viability of loser cells. This study found instead that excess production of a growth factor (Upd-3) can boost cell competition by promoting preferential proliferation of fitter cells. Given that JNK and JAK-STAT are frequently activated in response to stress or deleterious mutations, it would be interesting to test whether this is a general mechanism used by 'loser' cells to promote the overgrowth of fitter neighbors. Notably, differences in JAK-STAT signaling are sufficient to trigger cell competition and, consistent with this, reducing JAK-STAT signaling in wild-type cells compromises their ability to eliminate scribble/ losers. Thus, increased JAK-STAT signaling may in addition provide wild-type cells with a heightened fitness state and help promote the elimination of M/+ losers (Kolahgar, 2015).

Ribosomal mutations are linked with many adult disorders, not just in but more importantly in humans, where they are associated with a number of severe pathologies, collectively known as ribosomopathies. Given that 79 proteins make up the eukaryotic ribosome (and several more are involved in ribosomal production) and that many Minute mutations are dominant, the sporadic insurgence of M/+ cells in adult tissues is likely to be one of the most common spontaneous generations of somatic mutant cells in our bodies. The elimination of these cells via cell competition is likely to play an unappreciated role in maintaining healthy adult tissues (Kolahgar, 2015).

A striking feature emerging from the current results is that, in response to cell competition, normal cells can efficiently repopulate adult tissues, thus effectively replacing potentially diseased cells. This bears striking resemblance to the phenomenon of mosaic revertants, observed in a number of human skin and blood diseases. Spontaneous sporadic reversion of genetically inherited, disease-bearing mutations leads to the generation of revertant cells, which effectively repopulate tissues, at times ameliorating the condition. In some instances, the revertants' expansion is so efficient that selective advantage has been proposed. Intriguingly, ichthyosis with confetti, a skin disease characterized by confetti-like appearance of revertant skin spots, is associated with a mutation in Keratin 10, which, due to its nucleolar mislocalization, could affect ribosome production similar to M/+ mutants. Thus, based on the current findings, it is tentative to speculate that selective advantage in mosaic revertants could in some cases be driven by cell competition (Kolahgar, 2015).

Tankyrase mediates K63-linked ubiquitination of JNK to confer stress tolerance and influence lifespan in Drosophila
Tankyrase (Tnks) transfers poly(ADP-ribose) on substrates. Whereas studies have highlighted the pivotal roles of Tnks in cancer, cherubism, systemic sclerosis, and viral infection, the requirement for Tnks under physiological contexts remains unclear. This study report that the loss of Tnks or its muscle-specific knockdown impairs lifespan, stress tolerance, and energy homeostasis in adult Drosophila. Tnks is a positive regulator in the JNK signaling pathway, and modest alterations in the activity of JNK signaling can strengthen or suppress the Tnks mutant phenotypes. JNK was identified as a direct substrate of Tnks. Although Tnks-dependent poly-ADP-ribosylation is tightly coupled to proteolysis in the proteasome, it was demonstrated that Tnks initiates degradation-independent ubiquitination on two lysine residues of JNK to promote its kinase activity and in vivo functions. This study uncovers a type of posttranslational modification of Tnks substrates and provides insights into Tnks-mediated physiological roles (Li, 2018).

Tankyrase (Tnks) belongs to the poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) superfamily, which consists of 17 members in human. PARP-1 is the founding member of the family and has a critical role in the repair of DNA damage. The PARPs are characterized by a structurally similar PARP catalytic domain that successively transfers ADP-ribose from NAD+ onto substrate proteins. This post-translational modification is referred to as poly-ADP-ribosylation, or PARsylation. It has been shown that some PARPs actually catalyze mono-ADP-ribosylation rather than the polymerization of poly(ADP-ribose) chains. Because of this reason, the PARP family members have been renamed as ADP-ribosyltransferases diphtheria toxin-like (ARTDs). Tnks was identified as a telomere-associated protein that binds to the telomere-specific DNA binding protein TRF1. In addition to the PARP domain, Tnks contains two unique domains that distinguish it from other PARPs, including an Ankyrin repeat domain that is involved in the recruitment of substrate and a sterile alpha motif (SAM) that mediates oligomerization. Tnks is evolutionarily conserved in human, mouse, rat, chicken, C. elegans, and Drosophila. The human and mouse genome encodes two Tnks proteins (Tnk1/PARP5A/ARTD5 and Tnk2/PARP5B/ARTD6), whereas there is only one Tnks homolog in Drosophila (Li, 2018).

Tnks catalyzes PARsylation on its substrates and is involved in a variety of cellular processes, such as telomere homeostasis, cell-cycle progression, Wnt/β-catenin signaling, PI3K signaling, Hippo signaling, glucose metabolism, stress granule formation, and proteasome regulation. Various amino acid residues including lysine, arginine, aspartate, glutamate, asparagine, cysteine, phospho-serine, and diphthamide may serve as acceptors for PARsylation. In many cases, proteins modified by Tnks are subsequently poly-ubiquitinated and targeted for proteasomal degradation. For example, Tnks promotes telomere elongation by mediating the degradation of TRF1, a negative regulator of telomere length maintenance. Tnks PARsylates the β-catenin destruction complex component Axin, triggers its degradation, and thereby activates Wnt signaling. Tnks also regulates the stability of centrosomal P4.1-associated protein CPAP to limit centriole elongation during mitosis. On the other hand, the effects of PARsylation on some Tnks substrates, such as the nuclear mitotic apparatus protein NUMA, have not been elucidated, implying that alternative regulation following PARsylation may exist (Li, 2018).

Aberrant Tnks expression or activity has been implicated in a diversity of diseases including cancer, systemic sclerosis, cherubism, Herpes simplex, and Epstein-Barr viral infections. Particularly, the pro-oncogenic role of Tnks in many types of cancer strongly suggests a therapeutic benefit of Tnks inhibition. Whereas a substantial amount of studies have highlighted the important functions of Tnks under pathological conditions, the requirement for Tnks under physiological contexts is largely unexplored (Li, 2018).

This study investigate the physiological functions of Tnks during the adult stage in Drosophila with its mutant alleles and RNAi strains. The loss of Tnks was shown to impair lifespan, stress tolerance, and energy storage in adult flies. Ubiquitous or muscle-specific knockdown of Tnks causes defects similar to those observed in the mutant alleles. It was further shown that Tnks is specifically required for the activity of the c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and positively regulates the outputs of JNK signaling during organ development. In addition, mild reduction and slight increase in the activity of JNK signaling via genetic manipulations can strengthen and suppress the phenotypes of the Tnks mutants, respectively. Last, the results reveal for the first time that Tnks mediates degradation-independent ubiquitination on its substrate. Drosophila JNK was identified as a direct substrate protein of Tnks. The PARsylation by Tnks triggers K63-linked poly-ubiquitination on JNK, enhancing its kinase activity and maintaining its in vivo functions. Together, this study uncovers that Tnks is a positive regulator of JNK activity, mediates a novel type of post-translational modification, and functions through JNK signaling to affect lifespan, stress resistance, and energy homeostasis in Drosophila (Li, 2018).

PARsylation by Tnks appears to be tightly coupled to poly-ubiquitination and subsequent proteasome-dependent degradation, as observed for known Tnks substrates including Axin, TRF1, PTEN, 3BP2, CPAP, and AMOT family proteins. This study found that Tnks mediated PARsylation and poly-ubiquitination of Drosophila JNK (Bsk), however, without affecting its protein levels. This observation prompted investigation og the form of poly-ubiquitin chain assembled on Bsk in the presence of Tnks. Although all the seven lysine residues (K6, K11, K27, K29, K33, K48, and K63) and the N-terminal methionine residue in the ubiquitin can serve as the attachment site to generate poly-ubiquitin chain, K48-linked and K63-linked poly-ubiquitination are two predominant forms in cells. It is well-established that K48-linked poly-ubiquitination targets substrates to the 26S proteasome and promotes protein degradation, while K63-linked poly-ubiquitin chain performs non-proteolytic functions. Consistently, this study observed that Tnks promoted the assembly of K63-linked poly-ubiquitin chain on Bsk and increased its kinase activity. In contrast, Tnks did not affect K48-linked poly-ubiquitination of Bsk. Although the possibility cannot be completely that these modifications occur on a Bsk partner that tightly binds to Bsk even after stringent washing, this study reveals for the first time that Tnks mediates degradation-independent ubiquitination of its substrate, which may represent a novel type of modification induced by PARsylation. Indeed, it has been reported that PARsylation of some Tnks substrates such as the proteasome regulator PI31 and the mitotic spindle-pole protein NuMA may affect the activities of these proteins. It will be interesting to investigate whether similar modification occurs during these processes (Li, 2018).

JNK is an evolutionarily conserved stress-activated protein kinase (SAPK) and is one of the most versatile stress sensors in metazoans. The JNK signaling pathway adapts growth and metabolism to environmental conditions, and mediates stress tolerance, damage repair, and apoptosis. Therefore, JNK signaling has pivotal roles in regulating homeostasis, longevity, and organ development. This study reports an essential role of Tnks in regulating JNK signaling. As an initial hint, adult Tnks mutants are more sensitive to oxidative stress and to starvation, and live much shorter than the wild-type controls. Although several signaling pathways are known to coordinate these functions in Drosophila, this study observed that the loss of Tnks specifically decreased the activity of Bsk without affecting that of ERK, p38, Akt, and Nrf2 signaling. It was further found that Tnks was required for the outputs of JNK signaling during the development of eye, wing, and thorax. The knockdown of Tnks in the thorax strengthened the thoracic cleft phenotype caused by bsk knockdown. The loss of Tnks, or reducing its gene dosage, suppressed ectopic JNK signaling-induced phenotypes during the formation of compound eye and wing vein. In addition, Tnks overexpression in the wing disc activated puc expression in a bsk-dependent manner. Last, it was observed that bsk with mutations in Tnks-induced ubiquitination sites lacked the ability to rescue the lethality of the bsk1/2 mutant and displayed impaired activity in regulating stress tolerance, climbing, energy storage, and organ development compared to wild-type bsk. This work thus reveals Tnks as a positive regulator of the JNK signaling pathway (Li, 2018).

Aberrant Tnks expression or activity has been implicated in a variety of disease states including cancer, cherubism, systemic sclerosis, and viral infection. The proposed roles of Tnks in telomere homeostasis, mitosis, and Wnt signaling have made it an attractive drug target in many types of cancer. Tnks is implied in a diversity of additional cellular processes, such as glucose metabolism, stress granule assembly, and proteasome regulation. However, the requirement for Tnks under physiological contexts remains poorly understood. While a double knockout of Tnks1 and Tnk2 is embryonically lethal in mice, Tnks mutant flies do not display any noticeable developmental defects. Although a previous study reported that Tnks-deficient mice exhibited substantially reduced adiposity, the underlying molecular mechanism is unclear. This work has focused on the physiological changes in Tnks mutant flies during the adult stage. It is reported that the loss of Tnks or its knockdown shortens lifespan, decreases climbing ability, reduces resistance to oxidative stress and starvation, and impairs energy storage in adult flies. Through tissue-specific knockdown, it is concluded that the above functions of Tnks are mainly mediated via its activity in the muscle. These physiological functions of Tnks are attributed to its regulation of JNK signaling activity, which is supported by several lines of evidence. First, the loss of Tnks specifically weakens Bsk activity and JNK signaling. Second, mild reduction in JNK signaling activity by removing one copy of bsk gene aggravates the phenotypes in Tnks mutants, whereas slightly elevated JNK signaling largely rescues these phenotypes. Third, this study shows that Tnks triggers PARsylation and K63-linked poly-ubiquitination of Bsk and enhances the kinase activity and in vivo functions of Bsk (Li, 2018).

JNK and Yorkie drive tumor progression by generating polyploid giant cells in Drosophila

Epithelial cancer tissues often possess polyploid giant cells, which are thought to be highly oncogenic. However, the mechanisms by which polyploid giant cells are generated in tumor tissues and how such cells contribute to tumor progression remain elusive. Cells mutant for the endocytic gene rab5 in Drosophila imaginal epithelium exhibit enlarged nuclei. This study finds that mutations in endocytic 'neoplastic tumor-suppressor' genes, such as rab5, vps25, erupted, or avalanche result in generation of polyploid giant cells. Genetic analyses on rab5-defective cells reveal that cooperative activation of JNK and Yorkie generates polyploid giant cells via endoreplication. Mechanistically, Yorkie-mediated upregulation of Diap1 cooperates with JNK to downregulate the G2/M cyclin CycB, thereby inducing endoreplication. Interestingly, malignant tumors induced by Ras activation and cell polarity defect also consist of polyploid giant cells, which are generated by JNK and Yorkie-mediated downregulation of CycB. Strikingly, elimination of polyploid giant cells from such malignant tumors by blocking endoreplication strongly suppressed tumor growth and metastatic behavior. These observations suggest that JNK and Yorkie, two oncogenic proteins activated in many types of human cancers, cooperatively drive tumor progression by generating oncogenic polyploid giant cells (Cong, 2018).

Polyploid giant cells, which contain multiples of the diploid genome equivalents, are often observed in human cancer tissues. Such polyploidy can be generated by endoreplication, a cell cycle variation that gives rise to genomic contents by replicating DNA in the absence of cell division. Polyploid giant cancer cells were shown to be more tumorigenic than normal diploid cancer cells. However, the mechanisms by which polyploid giant cells are generated in tumors and how they contribute to tumor progression remain elusive (Cong, 2018).

In Drosophila imaginal epithelia, loss-of-function mutations in the endocytic genes, such as rab5, vps25, erupted (ept), or avalanche (avl) cause neoplastic tissue overgrowth and therefore these genes are called 'neoplastic tumor-suppressors'. Previously found that cells deficient for Rab5, a small GTPase essential for generating early endosomes, induce non-autonomous overgrowth of surrounding tissue when induced as mosaic clones in the imaginal disc (Takino, 2014). Mechanistically, loss-of-Rab5 causes activation of Eiger (a tumor necrosis factor (TNF) homolog)-JNK signaling and EGFR-Ras signaling, which cooperate together to activate the Hippo pathway effector Yorkie (Yki, a YAP homolog), leading to upregulation of a secreted growth factor Unpaired (Upd, an IL-6 homolog) (Takino, 2014). Intriguingly, this study also noticed that such Rab5-deficient cells exhibited enlarged nuclei, which was suppressed by inhibition of JNK signaling, Ras signaling, or Yki activity, although the underlying mechanisms and its function have been unknown (Cong, 2018).

This study also analyzed Rab5-defective cells in detail and found that rab5 mutation generates polyploid giant cells through endoreplication. Genetic analyses reveal that JNK and a Yki-target Diap1 (Drosophila inhibitor-of-apoptosis protein 1) cooperate to induce endoreplication in Rab5-defective cells via downregulation of the G2/M cyclin CyclinB (CycB). Furthermore, this study also showed that generation of such polyploid giant cells is essential for tumor growth and metastasis in a Drosophila model of malignant tumors bearing Ras activation and cell polarity defect (Cong, 2018).

Serpin facilitates tumor-suppressive cell competition by blocking Toll-mediated Yki activation in Drosophila

Normal epithelial tissue exerts an intrinsic tumor-suppressive effect against oncogenically transformed cells. In Drosophila imaginal epithelium, clones of oncogenic polarity-deficient cells mutant for scribble (scrib) or discs large (dlg) are eliminated by cell competition when surrounded by wild-type cells. In this study, a genetic screen in Drosophila identified Serpin5 (Spn5), a secreted negative regulator of Toll signaling, as a crucial factor for epithelial cells to eliminate scrib mutant clones from epithelium. Downregulation of Spn5 in wild-type cells leads to elevation of Toll signaling in neighboring scrib cells. Strikingly, forced activation of Toll signaling or Toll-related receptor (TRR) signaling in scrib clones transforms scrib cells from losers to supercompetitors, resulting in tumorous overgrowth of mutant clones. Mechanistically, Toll activation in scrib clones leads to c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activation and F-actin accumulation, which cause strong activation of the Hippo pathway effector Yorkie that blocks cell death and promotes cell proliferation. These data suggest that Spn5 secreted from normal epithelial cells acts as a component of the extracellular surveillance system that facilitates elimination of pre-malignant cells from epithelium (Katsukawa, 2018).

Clones of oncogenic polarity-deficient cells are actively eliminated from Drosophila imaginal epithelium when surrounded by normal tissue, indicating the existence of intrinsic tumor-suppression mechanism by cell competition. The present study shows that normal epithelial cells secrete Spn5 to facilitate the tumor-suppressive cell competition by antagonizing Toll signaling activation in polarity-deficient cells. Elevation of Toll signaling in polarity-deficient cells transforms them from losers to supercompetitors, which leads to tumorous overgrowth of mutant tissue. Thus, Spn5 acts as a component of the extracellular surveillance system that eliminates oncogenic cells by cell competition. It is not known at this stage why scrib cells are more sensitive to loss of spn5 to upregulate Toll signaling compared to surrounding wild-type cells. One possible mechanism that drives Toll activation in scrib cells would be JNK activation, which was shown to be sufficient to activate Toll signaling (Katsukawa, 2018).

Interestingly, it has been shown that activation of TRR signaling in losers of Myc- or Minute-induced cell competition causes losers' death through nuclear factor κB (NF-κB)-mediated induction of cell death gene hid or rpr, respectively. Consistent with this report, it has been shown in Drosophila larval fat bodies that activation of Toll signaling leads to inactivation of Yki, which may cause hid- or rpr-mediated cell death because one of the important Yki targets is a caspase inhibitor diap1. These observations intriguingly indicate that Toll signaling has opposite roles in different types of cell competition; while Toll activation promotes elimination of losers in Myc- or Minute-induced cell competition, it suppresses elimination of polarity-deficient losers in tumor-suppressive cell competition. Importantly, however, in both cases, Toll or TRR signaling seems to act as an oncogenic signaling that promotes expansion of pre-malignant winner clones within the tissue. Consistent with these findings in Drosophila, it has been reported that upregulation of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) is associated with tumor growth and progression in some human cancers. In addition, one of the human orthologs of Drosophila Spn5, SpnA5, has been shown to inhibit breast cancer growth and metastasis, and its expression level is decreased in renal cell carcinoma and sarcoma. These observations, together with the data from Drosophila genetics, suggest that Toll signaling drives tumorigenesis by promoting supercompetition of oncogenic cell clones (Katsukawa, 2018).

The mechanism by which Toll activation in polarity-deficient cells leads to Yki activation is an important open question for future studies. One possible mechanism is co-activation of JNK and Ras signaling in Toll-activated scrib cells, as these two pathways have shown to cooperate to induce Yki activation through F-actin accumulation and Wts inactivation. Interestingly, it has been shown in mammalian systems that the TLR signaling activates JNK signaling and that several TLRs activate EGFR-Ras signaling upon immune response. Given that signaling molecules identified in Drosophila are all conserved, similar Toll-mediated regulation of tumorigenesis could be involved in human cancer (Katsukawa, 2018).

Bacterial infection causes insect immune tissues to synthesize a spectrum of antibacterial peptides, including Cecropin and Diptericin, which lyse the invading microorganisms (Hultmark, 1993 and Peterson, 1995). Exposure of Drosophila to environmental stress (such as a pathogenic onslaught) activates two groups of transcription factors: AP-1 (coded for by Drosophila jun and fos) and two related proteins; Dorsal and Dorsal related factor (Dif).

Dorsal and Dif are homologs of NFkappaB (also known as Rel), an essential transcription factor involved in the vertebrate immune response (Ip, 1993). Both Dif and Dorsal act in the insect immune defense against bacterial infection (see Dorsal for more information).

Drosophila JNK is activated by endotoxic lipopolysaccharide (LPS). LPS is a component of bacterial cell walls, and is known to be a stimulant for the immune response in both insects and mammals. The response of Drosophila to bacterial infection can be studied by examining the effect of LPS on cultured cell lines. Addition of LPS to cultured cell lines, including mbn-2 hemocytes and Schneider S2 embryonic cells, causes marked induction of cecropin and diptercin genes. basket is activated within 5 minutes of LPS addition. However, basket activation is transient and returns to basal levels after 1 hour. The activation of DJun by DJNK in LPS-treated cells may lead to increased AP-1 (a heterodimer of DFos and DJun) transcriptional activity. Targets of Drosophila AP-1 may include the DJun promoter (Sluss, 1996).

Mammalian JNK has been implicated in a variety of immune-related signaling pathways, including the response to pro-inflammatory cytokines, the respone to LPS, and T-cell activation (Su, 1994, Westwick, 1994 and 1995 and Raingeaud, 1995). The role of JNK and of Rel proteins in the vertebrate immune response harkens back to the roles of these proteins in Drosophila: both proteins are involved in systems that have developed to detect and protect against danger. When viewed from the perspective of signal transduction cascades and transcription factors it is clear that at its core, the vertebrate immune response system is one which detects and protects against danger. This conclusion is made clearer by looking at the roles of JNK and Rel in vertebrate responses to danger and in the related immune responses (see the basket/JNK Evolutionary homologs section).


GENE STRUCTURE

Genomic size - 4186 bp

cDNA clone length - 1831 bases

Bases in 5' UTR - 535

Exons - 6

Bases in 3' UTR - 141


PROTEIN STRUCTURE

Amino Acids - 372

Structural Domains

Drosophila Basket/JNK contains kinase subdomains I-XI. The dual phosphorylation motif Thr-Xaa-Tyr required for MAP kinase activation is located in kinase subdomain VIII (Thr-Pro-Tyr). Sequence comparison with other MAP kinases demonstrates that DJNK is a member of the JNK group of protein kinases. The amino acid sequence of DJNK is 65% identical to human JNK1. The amino acid sequence between kinase subdomains IX and X varies between the JNKs, and determines the efficiency of binding to c-Jun. In this region, DJNK is most homologous to JNK2. DJNK is related more distantly to the Drosophila rolled gene product ERKA (Sluss, 1996 and Riesgo-Escovar, 1996).


basket/JNK: | Evolutionary Homologs | Regulation | Protein Interactions | Developmental Biology | Effects of Mutation | References
date revised: 16 Dec 96  
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