What's new in edition 74 |
Gene sites new with this edition
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:
Viable yet damaged cells can accumulate during development and
aging. Although eliminating those cells may benefit organ
function, identification of this less fit cell population remains
challenging. Previously, a molecular mechanism, based on 'fitness
fingerprints' displayed on cell membranes, was identifed that allows direct fitness comparison among cells in Drosophila. This study reports the physiological consequences of efficient cell selection for the whole organism. The study found that fitness-based cell culling is naturally used to maintain tissue
health, delay aging, and extend lifespan in Drosophila.
A gene, ahuizotl (azot), was identified that ensures the elimination of less fit cells. Lack of azot increases morphological malformations and susceptibility to random
mutations and accelerates tissue degeneration. On the contrary,
improving the efficiency of cell selection is beneficial for
In epithelia, specialized tricellular junctions (TCJs) mediate cell
contacts at three-cell vertices. TCJs are fundamental to epithelial
biology and disease, but only a few TCJ components are known, and how they
assemble at tricellular vertices is not understood. This study describes a
transmembrane protein, Anakonda (Aka), which localizes to TCJs and is essential for the formation of tricellular, but not bicellular, junctions in Drosophila. Loss
of Aka caused epithelial barrier defects associated with irregular TCJ
structure and geometry, suggesting that Aka organized cell corners. Aka is necessary and sufficient for accumulation of Gliotactin at TCJs, suggesting that Aka initiated TCJ assembly by recruiting other proteins to tricellular vertices. Aka's extracellular domain had an unusual tripartite repeat
structure that might mediate self-assembly, directed by the geometry of
tricellular vertices. Conversely, Aka's cytoplasmic tail is dispensable
for TCJ localization. Thus, extracellular interactions, rather than
TCJ-directed intracellular transport, appear to mediate TCJ assembly (Byri, 2015).
Sugars are important nutrients for many animals, but are also proposed to contribute to overnutrition-derived metabolic diseases in humans. Understanding the genetic factors governing dietary sugar tolerance therefore has profound biological and medical significance. Paralogous Mondo transcription factors ChREBP and MondoA, with their common binding partner Mlx, are key sensors of intracellular glucose flux in mammals. This paper reports analysis of the in vivo function of Drosophila melanogaster Mlx and its binding partner Mondo (ChREBP) in respect to tolerance to dietary sugars. Larvae lacking mlx or having reduced mondo expression show strikingly reduced survival on a diet with moderate or high levels of sucrose, glucose, and fructose. mlx null mutants display widespread changes in lipid and phospholipid profiles, signs of amino acid catabolism, as well as strongly elevated circulating glucose levels. Systematic loss-of-function analysis of Mlx target genes reveals that circulating glucose levels and dietary sugar tolerance can be genetically uncoupled: Kruppel-like transcription factor Cabut and carbonyl detoxifying enzyme Aldehyde dehydrogenase type III are essential for dietary sugar tolerance, but display no influence on circulating glucose levels. On the other hand, Phosphofructokinase 2, a regulator of the glycolysis pathway, is needed for both dietary sugar tolerance and maintenance of circulating glucose homeostasis. Furthermore, evidence is shown that fatty acid synthesis, which is a highly conserved Mondo-Mlx-regulated process, does not promote dietary sugar tolerance. In contrast, survival of larvae with reduced fatty acid synthase expression is sugar-dependent. These data demonstrate that the transcriptional network regulated by Mondo-Mlx is a critical determinant of the healthful dietary spectrum allowing Drosophila to exploit sugar-rich nutrient sources (Havula, 2013).
- Calcium-independent receptor for α-latrotoxin
G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are typically regarded as chemosensors that control cellular states in response to soluble extracellular cues. However, the modality of stimuli recognized through adhesion GPCR (aGPCR), the second largest class of the GPCR superfamily, is unresolved. This study study characterizes the Drosophila aGPCR Latrophilin/dCirl, a prototype member of this enigmatic receptor class. dCirl is shown to shapes the perception of tactile, proprioceptive, and auditory stimuli through chordotonal neurons, the principal mechanosensors of Drosophila. dCirl sensitizes these neurons for the detection of mechanical stimulation by amplifying their input-output function. These results indicate that aGPCR may generally process and modulate the perception of mechanical signals, linking these important stimuli to the sensory canon of the GPCR superfamily (Scholz, 2015).
The coordination of growth with nutritional status is essential for proper development and physiology. Nutritional information is mostly perceived by peripheral organs before being relayed to the brain, which modulates physiological responses. Hormonal signaling ensures this organ-to-organ communication, and the failure of endocrine regulation in humans can cause diseases including obesity and diabetes. In Drosophila melanogaster, the fat body (adipose tissue) has been suggested to play an important role in coupling growth with nutritional status. This study shows that the peripheral tissue-derived peptide hormone CCHamide-2 (CCHa2) acts as a nutrient-dependent regulator of Drosophila insulin-like peptides (Dilps). A BAC-based transgenic reporter revealed strong expression of CCHa2 receptor (CCHa2-R) in insulin-producing cells (IPCs) in the brain. Calcium imaging of brain explants and IPC-specific CCHa2-R knockdown demonstrated that peripheral-tissue derived CCHa2 directly activates IPCs. Interestingly, genetic disruption of either CCHa2 or CCHa2-R caused almost identical defects in larval growth and developmental timing. Consistent with these phenotypes, the expression of dilp5, and the release of both Dilp2 and Dilp5, were severely reduced. Furthermore, transcription of CCHa2 is altered in response to nutritional levels, particularly of glucose. These findings demonstrate that CCHa2 and CCHa2-R form a direct link between peripheral tissues and the brain, and that this pathway is essential for the coordination of systemic growth with nutritional availability. A mammalian homologue of CCHa2-R, Bombesin receptor subtype-3 (Brs3), is an orphan receptor that is expressed in the islet β-cells; however, the role of Brs3 in insulin regulation remains elusive. This genetic approach in Drosophila melanogaster provides the first evidence that bombesin receptor signaling with its endogenous ligand promotes insulin production (Sano, 2015)
- Diuretic hormone 44
Animals can detect and consume nutritive sugars without the influence of taste. However, the identity of the taste-independent nutrient sensor and the mechanism by which animals respond to the nutritional value of sugar are unclear. This study reports that six neurosecretory cells in the Drosophila brain that produce Diuretic hormone 44 (Dh44), a homolog of the mammalian corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), are specifically activated by nutritive sugars. Flies in which the activity of these neurons or the expression of Dh44 was disrupted failed to select nutritive sugars. Manipulation of the function of Dh44 receptors had a similar effect. Notably, artificial activation of Dh44 receptor-1 neurons resulted in proboscis extensions and frequent episodes of excretion. Conversely, reduced Dh44 activity led to decreased excretion. Together, these actions facilitate ingestion and digestion of nutritive foods. It is proposed that the Dh44 system directs the detection and consumption of nutritive sugars through a positive feedback loop (Dus, 2015).
Cell competition promotes the elimination of weaker cells from a growing population. This study investigate how cells of Drosophila wing imaginal discs distinguish 'winners' from 'losers' during cell competition. Using genomic and functional assays, several factors implicated in the process were identified, including Flower (Fwe), a cell membrane protein that is conserved in multicellular animals and proposed to be a Ca2+ channel in neurons (Yao, 2009) conserved in multicellular animals. The results suggest that fwe is a component of the cell competition response that is required and sufficient to label cells as 'winners' or 'losers.' In Drosophila, the fwe locus produces three isoforms, fweubi), fweLose-A, and fweLose-B. Basal levels of fweubi are constantly produced. During competition, the fweLose) isoforms are upregulated in prospective loser cells. Cell-cell comparison of relative fweLose and fweubi levels ultimately determines which cell undergoes apoptosis. This "extracellular code" may constitute an ancient mechanism to terminate competitive conflicts among cells (Rhiner, 2010).
Disruption of epithelial polarity is a key event in the acquisition of neoplastic growth. JNK signalling is known to play an important part in driving the malignant progression of many epithelial tumours, although the link between loss of polarity and JNK signalling remains elusive. In a Drosophila genome-wide genetic screen designed to identify molecules implicated in neoplastic growth, this study identified grindelwald (grnd; CG10176), a gene encoding a transmembrane protein with homology to members of the tumour necrosis factor receptor (TNFR) superfamily. This study shows that Grnd mediates the pro-apoptotic functions of Eiger (Egr), the unique Drosophila TNF, and that overexpression of an active form of Grnd lacking the extracellular domain is sufficient to activate JNK signalling in vivo. Grnd also promotes the invasiveness of RasV12/scrib-/- tumours through Egr-dependent Matrix metalloprotease-1 (Mmp1) expression. Grnd localizes to the subapical membrane domain with the cell polarity determinant Crumbs (Crb) and couples Crb-induced loss of polarity with JNK activation and neoplastic growth through physical interaction with Veli (also known as Lin-7). Therefore, Grnd represents the first example of a TNFR that integrates signals from both Egr and apical polarity determinants to induce JNK-dependent cell death or tumour growth (Andersen, 2015).
- Heterochromatin Protein 1e
Sperm-packaged DNA must undergo extensive reorganization to ensure its timely participation in embryonic mitosis. Whereas maternal control over this remodeling is well described, paternal contributions are virtually unknown. This study shows that Drosophila melanogaster males lacking Heterochromatin Protein 1E (HP1E) sire inviable embryos that undergo catastrophic mitosis. In these embryos, the paternal genome fails to condense and resolve into sister chromatids in synchrony with the maternal genome. This delay leads to a failure of paternal chromosomes, particularly the heterochromatin-rich sex chromosomes, to separate on the first mitotic spindle. Remarkably, HP1E is not inherited on mature sperm chromatin. Instead, HP1E primes paternal chromosomes during spermatogenesis to ensure faithful segregation post-fertilization. This transgenerational effect suggests that maternal control is necessary but not sufficient for transforming sperm DNA into a mitotically competent pronucleus. Instead, paternal action during spermiogenesis exerts post-fertilization control to ensure faithful chromosome segregation in the embryo (Levine, 2015).
- jing interacting gene regulatory 1
Intragenic microRNAs (miRNAs), located mostly in the introns of protein-coding genes, are often co-expressed with their host mRNAs. However, their functional interaction in development is largely unknown. This study shows that in Drosophila, miR-92a and miR-92b are embedded in the intron and 3'UTR of jigr1, respectively, and co-expressed with some jigr1 isoforms. miR-92a and miR-92b were highly expressed in neuroblasts of larval brain where Jigr1 expression was low. Genetic deletion of both miR-92a and miR-92b demonstrated an essential cell-autonomous role for these miRNAs in maintaining neuroblast self-renewal through inhibiting premature differentiation. miR-92a and miR-92b directly targeted jigr1 in vivo and some phenotypes due to the absence of these miRNAs were partially rescued by reducing the level of jigr1. These results reveal a novel function of the miR-92 family in Drosophila neuroblasts and provide another example that local negative feedback regulation of host genes by intragenic miRNAs is essential for animal development (Yuva-Aydemir, 2015).
- Muscle-specific protein 300 kDa
An important mechanism underlying synapse development and plasticity is the localization of mRNAs that travel from the nucleus to synaptic sites. This study demonstrates that the giant nuclear-associated Nesprin1 (dNesp1 - FlyBase name Muscle-specific protein 300 kDa) forms striated F-actin-based filaments, which were dubbed "railroad tracks," that span from muscle nuclei to postsynaptic sites at the neuromuscular junction in Drosophila. These railroad tracks specifically wrap around immature boutons formed during development and in response to electrical activity. In the absence of dNesp1, mRNAs normally localized at postsynaptic sites are lacking and synaptic maturation is inhibited. This dNesp1 function does not depend on direct association of dNesp1 isoforms with the nuclear envelope. It was also show that dNesp1 functions with an unconventional myosin, Myo1D, and that both dNesp1 and Myo1D are mutually required for their localization to immature boutons. These studies unravel a novel pathway directing the transport of mRNAs from the nucleus to postsynaptic sites during synaptic maturation (Packard, 2015).
- pancreatic eIF-2α kinase
Intestinal homeostasis requires precise control of intestinal stem cell (ISC) proliferation. In Drosophila, this control declines with age largely due to chronic activation of stress signaling and associated chronic inflammatory conditions. An important contributor to this condition is the age-associated increase in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. This study shows that the PKR-like ER kinase (PERK) integrates both cell-autonomous and non-autonomous ER stress stimuli to induce ISC proliferation. In addition to responding
to cell-intrinsic ER stress, PERK was also specifically activates in ISCs
by JAK/Stat signaling in response to
ER stress in neighboring cells. The activation of PERK is required for homeostatic regeneration, as well as for acute regenerative responses, yet the chronic engagement of this response became deleterious in aging flies. Accordingly, knocking down PERK in ISCs is sufficient to promote intestinal homeostasis and extend lifespan. These studies highlight the significance of the PERK branch of the unfolded protein response of the ER
(UPRER) in intestinal homeostasis and provide a viable strategy to improve
organismal health- and lifespan (Wang, 2015).
Target of rapamycin (TOR) is an evolutionarily conserved serine/threonine protein kinase that functions as a central regulator of cellular growth and metabolism by forming two distinct complexes: TOR complex 1 (TORC1) and TORC2. As well as TORC1, TORC2 plays a key role in regulation of cell growth. But little is known about how TORC2 regulates cell growth. The transcription factor Myc also plays a critical role in cell proliferation and growth. This study reports that TORC2 and Myc regulate cell growth via a common pathway. Expression of Myc fully rescues growth defects associated with lst8 and rictor mutations, both of which encode essential components of TORC2. Furthermore, loss of TORC2 disrupted the nuclear localization of Myc, and inhibited Myc-dependent transcription. Together, these results reveal a Myc-dependent pathway by which TORC2 regulates cell growth (Kuo, 2015).
Tafazzin is a transacylase that affects cardiolipin fatty acid
composition and mitochondrial function. Mutations in human tafazzin cause Barth syndrome yet the enzyme has mostly been characterized
in yeast. To study tafazzin in higher organisms, this study
isolated mitochondria from Drosophila and mammalian cell
cultures. Tafazzin was found to bind to multiple protein
complexes in these organisms, and that the interactions of
tafazzin lack strong specificity. Very large Tafazzin complexes
are detected only in the presence of cardiolipin, but smaller
complexes remain intact even upon treatment with phospholipase A2.
In mammalian cells, Tafazzin has a half-life of only 3–6 h,
which is much shorter than the half-life of other mitochondrial
proteins. The data suggest that Tafazzin is a transient resident
of multiple protein complexes (Xu, 2015).
- Tie-like receptor tyrosine kinase
Induction of cell death by a variety of means in wing imaginal discs of Drosophila larvae resulted in the activation of an anti-apoptotic microRNA, bantam. Cells in the vicinity of dying cells also become harder to kill by ionizing radiation (IR)-induced apoptosis. Both ban activation and increased protection from IR required receptor tyrosine kinase Tie, which was identified in a genetic screen for modifiers of ban. tie mutants are hypersensitive to radiation, and radiation sensitivity of tie mutants was rescued by increased ban gene dosage. It is proposed that dying cells activate ban in surviving cells through Tie to make the latter cells harder to kill, thereby preserving tissues and ensuring organism survival. The protective effect reported in this study differs from classical radiation bystander effect in which neighbors of irradiated cells become more prone to death. The protective effect also differs from the previously described effect of dying cells that results in proliferation of nearby cells in Drosophila larval discs. If conserved in mammals, a phenomenon in which dying cells make the rest harder to kill by IR could have implications for treatments that involve the sequential use of cytotoxic agents and radiation therapy (Bilak, 2014).
date revised: 5 September 2015
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