Notch: Biological Overview | Evolutionary Homologs | Regulation | Protein Interactions | Post-transcriptional regulation of Notch mRNA | Developmental Biology | Effects of Mutation | References

Gene name - Notch

Synonyms - Abruptex (Ax), split (spl)

Cytological map position - 3C7

Function - receptor, lateral inhibition

Keywords - neurogenic, oncogene and tumor suppressor

Symbol - N

FlyBase ID:FBgn0004647

Genetic map position - 1-3.0

Classification - EGF family, ankyrin-repeat, SH3-domain

Cellular location - cell surface



NCBI links: | Entrez Gene |
Recent literature
Michel, M., Aliee, M., Rudolf, K., Bialas, L., Julicher, F. and Dahmann, C. (2016). The selector gene apterous and Notch are required to locally increase mechanical cell bond tension at the Drosophila dorsoventral compartment boundary. PLoS One 11: e0161668. PubMed ID: 27552097
Summary:
In Drosophila, the wing imaginal disc is subdivided into a dorsal and a ventral compartment. Cells of the dorsal, but not ventral, compartment express the selector gene apterous. Apterous expression sets in motion a gene regulatory cascade that leads to the activation of Notch signaling in a few cell rows on either side of the dorsoventral compartment boundary. Both Notch and apterous mutant clones disturb the separation of dorsal and ventral cells. Maintenance of the straight shape of the dorsoventral boundary involves a local increase in mechanical tension at cell bonds along the boundary. The mechanisms by which cell bond tension is locally increased however remain unknown. This study used a combination of laser ablation of cell bonds, quantitative image analysis, and genetic mutants to show that Notch and Apterous are required to increase cell bond tension along the dorsoventral compartment boundary. Moreover, clonal expression of the Apterous target gene capricious results in cell separation and increased cell bond tension at the clone borders. Finally, using a vertex model to simulate tissue growth, an increase in cell bond tension at the borders of cell clones, but not throughout the cell clone, was found to lead to cell separation. It is concluded that Apterous and Notch maintain the characteristic straight shape of the dorsoventral compartment boundary by locally increasing cell bond tension.
Bi, P., Yue, F., Sato, Y., Wirbisky, S., Liu, W., Shan, T., Wen, Y., Zhou, D., Freeman, J. and Kuang, S. (2016). Stage-specific effects of Notch activation during skeletal myogenesis. Elife 5. PubMed ID: 27644105
Evolutionary Homolog Study
Skeletal myogenesis involves sequential activation, proliferation, self-renewal/differentiation and fusion of myogenic stem cells (satellite cells). Notch signaling is known to be essential for the maintenance of satellite cells, but its function in late-stage myogenesis, i.e. post-differentiation myocytes and post-fusion myotubes, is unknown. Using stage-specific Cre alleles, distinct roles were found of Notch1 in mononucleated myocytes and multinucleated myotubes. Specifically, constitutive Notch1 activation dedifferentiates myocytes into Pax7+ quiescent satellite cells, leading to severe defects in muscle growth and regeneration, and postnatal lethality. By contrast, myotube-specific Notch1 activation improves the regeneration and exercise performance of aged and dystrophic muscles. Mechanistically, Notch1 activation in myotubes upregulates the expression of Notch ligands, which modulate Notch signaling in the adjacent satellite cells to enhance their regenerative capacity. These results highlight context-dependent effects of Notch activation during myogenesis, and demonstrate that Notch1 activity improves myotube's function as a stem cell niche.
Nemetschke, L. and Knust, E. (2016). Drosophila Crumbs prevents ectopic Notch activation in developing wings by inhibiting ligand-independent endocytosis. Development 143(23): 4543-4553. PubMed ID: 27899511
Summary:
Many signalling components are apically restricted in epithelial cells, and receptor localisation and abundance is key for morphogenesis and tissue homeostasis. Hence, controlling apicobasal epithelial polarity is crucial for proper signalling. Notch is a ubiquitously expressed, apically localised receptor, which performs a plethora of functions; therefore, its activity has to be tightly regulated. This study shows that Drosophila Crumbs, an evolutionarily conserved polarity determinant, prevents Notch endocytosis in developing wings through direct interaction between the two proteins. Notch endocytosis in the absence of Crumbs results in the activation of the ligand-independent, Deltex-dependent Notch signalling pathway, and does not require the ligands Delta and Serrate or γ-secretase activity. This function of Crumbs is not due to general defects in apicobasal polarity, as localisation of other apical proteins is unaffected. These data reveal a mechanism to explain how Crumbs directly controls localisation and trafficking of the potent Notch receptor, and adds yet another aspect of Crumbs regulation in Notch pathway activity. Furthermore, the data highlight a close link between the apical determinant Crumbs, receptor trafficking and tissue homeostasis.
Ling, X., Huang, Q., Xu, Y., Jin, Y., Feng, Y., Shi, W., Ye, X., Lin, Y., Hou, L. and Lin, X. (2017). The deubiquitinating enzyme Usp5 regulates Notch and RTK signaling during Drosophila eye development. FEBS Lett [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed ID: 28140449
Summary:
Usp5 belongs to the USP family of deubiquitinating enzymes (DUBs), which comprises the largest class of DUBs. Loss of Usp5 has been shown to impair development of photoreceptors in Drosophila eyes, but the detailed mechanism remained unclear. This study demonstrated that Usp5 regulates both Notch and receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) signaling. Loss of Usp5 results in upregulation of Notch signaling and downregulation of RTK signaling, leading to impaired photoreceptor development. Moreover, genetic rescue experiments with Su(H) or Notch RNAi indicate that they mediate the regulation of RTK signaling by Usp5. This study provides mechanistic insight into how Usp5 regulates photoreceptor differentiation by Notch and RTK signaling in the Drosophila eye.
Corson, F., Couturier, L., Rouault, H., Mazouni, K. and Schweisguth, F. (2017). Self-organized Notch dynamics generate stereotyped sensory organ patterns in Drosophila. Science [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed ID: 28386027
Summary:
The emergence of spatial patterns in developing multicellular organisms relies on positional cues and cell-cell communication. Drosophila sensory organs have informed a paradigm where these operate in two distinct steps: prepattern factors drive localized proneural activity, then Notch-mediated lateral inhibition singles out neural precursors. This study shows that self-organization through Notch signaling also organizes the proneural stripes that resolve into rows of sensory bristles on the fly thorax. Patterning, initiated by a gradient of Delta ligand expression, progresses through inhibitory signaling between and within stripes. Thus Notch signaling can support self-organized tissue patterning as a prepattern is transduced by cell-cell interactions into a refined arrangement of cellular fates.
Lee, T. V., Pandey, A. and Jafar-Nejad, H. (2017). Xylosylation of the Notch receptor preserves the balance between its activation by trans-Delta and inhibition by cis-ligands in Drosophila. PLoS Genet 13(4): e1006723. PubMed ID: 28394891
Summary:
The Drosophila glucoside xylosyltransferase Shams xylosylates Notch and inhibits Notch signaling in specific contexts including wing vein development. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying context-specificity of the shams phenotype is not known. It is hypothesized that Shams might affect Delta-mediated Notch signaling. This study found that altering the gene dosage of Delta affects the wing vein and head bristle phenotypes caused by loss of Shams or by mutations in the Notch xylosylation sites. Clonal analysis suggests that loss of shams promotes Delta-mediated Notch activation. Further, Notch trans-activation by ectopically overexpressed Delta shows a dramatic increase upon loss of shams. In vivo, cell aggregation and ligand-receptor binding assays show that shams knock-down in Notch-expressing cells enhances the binding between Notch and trans-Delta without affecting the binding between Notch and trans-Serrate and cell surface levels of Notch. Removing one copy of endogenous ligands mimics the effects of loss shams on Notch trans-activation by ectopic Delta. This favors the notion that trans-activation of Notch by Delta overcomes the cis-inhibition of Notch by endogenous ligands upon loss of shams. Taken together, these data suggest that xylosylation selectively impedes the binding of Notch with trans-Delta without affecting its binding with cis-ligands and thereby assists in determining the balance of Notch receptor's response to cis-ligands vs. trans-Delta during Drosophila development.
He, L., Huang, J. and Perrimon, N. (2017). Development of an optimized synthetic Notch receptor as an in vivo cell-cell contact sensor. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 114(21): 5467-5472. PubMed ID: 28490499
Summary:
Detection and manipulation of direct cell-cell contact in complex tissues is a fundamental and challenging problem in many biological studies. This study reports an optimized Notch-based synthetic receptor (synNQ) useful to study direct cell-cell interactions in Drosophila. With the synNQ system, cells expressing a synthetic receptor, which contains Notch activation machinery and a downstream transcriptional activator, QF, are activated by a synthetic GFP ligand expressed by contacting neighbor cells. To avoid cis-inhibition, mutually exclusive expression of the synthetic ligand and receptor is achieved using the "flippase-out" system. Expression of the synthetic GFP ligand is controlled by the Gal4/UAS system for easy and broad applications. Using synNQ, cell-cell interactions within and between most fly tissues were successfully visualized, revealing previously undocumented cell-cell contacts. Importantly, in addition to detection of cells in contact with one another, synNQ allows for genetic manipulation in all cells in contact with a targeted cell population, which is demonstrated in the context of cell competition in developing wing disks. Altogether, the synNQ genetic system will enable a broad range of studies of cell contact in developmental biology.
Bhattacharya, A., Li, K., Quiquand, M., Rimesso, G. and Baker, N. E. (2017). The Notch pathway regulates the Second Mitotic Wave cell cycle independently of bHLH proteins. Dev Biol [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed ID: 28919436
Summary:
Notch regulates both neurogenesis and cell cycle activity to coordinate precursor cell generation in the differentiating Drosophila eye. Mosaic analysis with mitotic clones mutant for Notch components was used to identify the pathway of Notch signaling that regulates the cell cycle in the Second Mitotic Wave. Although S phase entry depends on Notch signaling and on the transcription factor Su(H), the transcriptional co-activator Mam and the bHLH repressor genes of the E(spl)-Complex were not essential, although these are Su(H) coactivators and targets during the regulation of neurogenesis. The Second Mitotic Wave showed little dependence on ubiquitin ligases neuralized or mindbomb, and although the ligand Delta is required non-autonomously, partial cell cycle activity occurred in the absence of known Notch ligands. This study found that myc was not essential for the Second Mitotic Wave. The Second Mitotic Wave did not require the HLH protein Extra macrochaetae, and the bHLH protein Daughterless was required only cell-nonautonomously. Similar cell cycle phenotypes for Daughterless and Atonal were consistent with requirement for neuronal differentiation to stimulate Delta expression, affecting Notch activity in the Second Mitotic Wave indirectly. Therefore Notch signaling acts to regulate the Second Mitotic Wave without activating bHLH gene targets.
Prince, L. M. and Rand, M. D. (2017). Notch target gene E(spl)mdelta is a mediator of methylmercury-induced myotoxicity in Drosophila. Front Genet 8: 233. PubMed ID: 29379520
Summary:
Methylmercury (MeHg) is a ubiquitous environmental contaminant and neurotoxicant that has long been known to cause a variety of motor deficits. These motor deficits have primarily been attributed to MeHg targeting of developing neurons and induction of oxidative stress and calcium dysregulation. Studies in Drosophila have revealed that MeHg perturbs embryonic muscle formation and upregulates Notch target genes, reflected predominantly by expression of the downstream transcriptional repressor Enhancer of Split mdelta [E(spl)mdelta]. An E(spl)mdelta reporter gene shows expression primarily in the myogenic domain, and both MeHg exposure and genetic upregulation of E(spl)mdelta can disrupt embryonic muscle development. This study tested the hypothesis that developing muscle is targeted by MeHg via upregulation of E(spl)mdelta. Developmental MeHg exposure causes a decreased rate of eclosion that parallels gross disruption of indirect flight muscle (IFM) development. An increase in E(spl) expression across the pupal stages, with preferential E(spl)mdelta upregulation occurring at early (p5) stages, is also observed. E(spl)mdelta overexpression in myogenic lineages under the Mef2 promoter was seen to phenocopy eclosion and IFM effects of developmental MeHg exposure; whereas reduced expression of E(spl)mdelta shows rescue of eclosion and IFM morphology effects of MeHg exposure. No effects were seen on eclosion with E(spl)mdelta overexpression in neural and gut tissues. These data indicate that muscle development is a target for MeHg and that E(spl)mdelta is a muscle-specific mediator of this myotoxicity.
Kavaler, J., Duan, H., Aradhya, R., de Navas, L. F., Joseph, B., Shklyar, B. and Lai, E. C. (2017). miRNA suppression of a Notch repressor directs non-neuronal fate in Drosophila mechanosensory organs. J Cell Biol 217(2):571-583. PubMed ID: 29196461
Summary:
Although there is abundant evidence that individual microRNA (miRNA) loci repress large cohorts of targets, large-scale knockout studies suggest that most miRNAs are phenotypically dispensable. This study identified a rare case of developmental cell specification that is highly dependent on miRNA control of an individual target. Binary cell fate choice in the Drosophila melanogaster peripheral sensory organ lineage is controlled by the non-neuronally expressed mir-279/996 cluster, with a majority of notum sensory organs exhibiting transformation of sheath cells into ectopic neurons. The mir-279/996 defect phenocopies Notch loss of function during the sheath-neuron cell fate decision, suggesting the miRNAs facilitate Notch signaling. Consistent with this, mir-279/996 knockouts are strongly enhanced by Notch heterozygosity, and activated nuclear Notch is impaired in the miRNA mutant. Although Hairless (H) is the canonical nuclear Notch pathway inhibitor, and H heterozygotes exhibit bristle cell fate phenotypes reflecting gain-of-Notch signaling, H/+ does not rescue mir-279/996 mutants. Instead, Insensible (Insb), another neural nuclear Notch pathway inhibitor, was identified as a critical direct miR-279/996 target. Insb is posttranscriptionally restricted to neurons by these miRNAs, and its heterozygosity strongly suppresses ectopic peripheral nervous system neurons in mir-279/996 mutants. Thus, proper assembly of multicellular mechanosensory organs requires a double-negative circuit involving miRNA-mediated suppression of a Notch repressor to assign non-neuronal cell fate.
Kannan, R., Cox, E., Wang, L., Kuzina, I., Gu, Q. and Giniger, E. (2018). Tyrosine phosphorylation and proteolytic cleavage of Notch are required for non-canonical Notch/Abl signaling in Drosophila axon guidance. Development 145(2). PubMed ID: 29343637
Summary:
Notch signaling is required for the development and physiology of nearly every tissue in metazoans. Much of Notch signaling is mediated by transcriptional regulation of downstream target genes, but Notch controls axon patterning in Drosophila by local modulation of Abl tyrosine kinase signaling, via direct interactions with the Abl co-factors Disabled and Trio. This study shows that Notch-Abl axonal signaling requires both of the proteolytic cleavage events that initiate canonical Notch signaling. It furthers show that some Notch protein is tyrosine phosphorylated in Drosophila, that this form of the protein is selectively associated with Disabled and Trio, and that relevant tyrosines are essential for Notch-dependent axon patterning but not for canonical Notch-dependent regulation of cell fate. Based on these data, a model is proposed for the molecular mechanism by which Notch controls Abl signaling in Drosophila axons.
Bellec, K., Gicquel, I. and Le Borgne, R. (2018). Stratum recruits Rab8 at Golgi exit sites to regulate the basolateral sorting of Notch and Sanpodo. Development 145(13). PubMed ID: 29967125
Summary:
In Drosophila, the sensory organ precursor (SOP or pI cell) divides asymmetrically to give birth to daughter cells, the fates of which are governed by the differential activation of the Notch pathway. Proteolytic activation of Notch induced by ligand is based on the correct polarized sorting and localization of the Notch ligand Delta, the Notch receptor and its trafficking partner Sanpodo (Spdo). This study has identified Stratum (Strat), a presumptive guanine nucleotide exchange factor for Rab GTPases, as a regulator of Notch activation. Loss of Strat causes cell fate transformations associated with an accumulation of Notch, Delta and Spdo in the trans-Golgi network (TGN), and an apical accumulation of Spdo. The strat mutant phenotype is rescued by the catalytically active as well as the wild-type form of Rab8, suggesting a chaperone function for Strat rather than that of exchange factor. Strat is required to localize Rab8 at the TGN, and rab8 phenocopies strat. It is proposed that Strat and Rab8 act at the exit of the Golgi apparatus to regulate the sorting and the polarized distribution of Notch, Delta and Spdo.
Yao, W., Shan, Z., Gu, A., Fu, M., Shi, Z. and Wen, W. (2018). WW domain-mediated regulation and activation of E3 ubiquitin ligase Suppressor of Deltex. J Biol Chem. PubMed ID: 30213861
Summary:
The Nedd4 family E3 ligases Itch and WWP1/2 play crucial roles in the regulation of cell cycle progression and apoptosis, and are closely correlated with cancer development and metastasis. It has been recently shown that the ligase activities of Itch and WWP1/2 are tightly regulated with the HECT domain sequestered intramolecularly by a linker region connecting WW2 and WW3. This study shows that a similar autoinhibitory mechanism is utilized by the Drosophila ortholog of Itch and WWP1/2, Suppressor of Deltex [Su(dx)]. Su(dx) adopts an inactive steady state with the WW domain region interacting with the HECT domain. Both the linker and preceding WW2 are required for the efficient binding and regulation of Su(dx) HECT. Recruiting the multiple PY motif-containing adaptor dNdfip via WW domains relieves the inhibitory state of Su(dx) and leads to substrate (e.g., Notch) ubiquitination. This study demonstrates an evolutionarily conservative mechanism governing the regulation and activation of some Nedd4 family E3 ligases. These results also suggest a dual regulatory mechanism for specific Notch downregulation via dNdfip-Su(dx)-mediated Notch ubiquitination.
Yang, S. A., Portilla, J. M., Mihailovic, S., Huang, Y. C. and Deng, W. M. (2019). Oncogenic Notch tiggers neoplastic tumorigenesis in a transition-zone-like tissue microenvironment. Dev Cell. PubMed ID: 30982664
Summary:
During the initial stages of tumorigenesis, the tissue microenvironment where the pro-tumor cells reside plays a crucial role in determining the fate of these cells. Transition zones, where two types of epithelial cells meet, are high-risk sites for carcinogenesis, but the underlying mechanism remains largely unclear. This study shows that persistent upregulation of Notch signaling induces neoplastic tumorigenesis in a transition zone between the salivary gland imaginal ring cells and the giant cells in Drosophila larvae. In this region, local endogenous JAK-STAT and JNK signaling creates a tissue microenvironment that is susceptible to oncogenic-Notch-induced tumorigenesis, whereas the rest of the salivary gland imaginal ring is refractory to Notch-induced tumor transformation. JNK signaling activates a matrix metalloprotease (MMP1) to promote Notch-induced tumorigenesis at the transition zone. These findings illustrate the significance of local endogenous inflammatory signaling in primary tumor formation.
Singh, A., Paul, M. S., Dutta, D., Mutsuddi, M. and Mukherjee, A. (2019). Regulation of Notch signaling by a chromatin modeling protein Hat-trick. Development. PubMed ID: 31142544
Summary:
Notch signaling plays pleiotropic role in astounding variety of cellular processes including cell fate determination, differentiation, proliferation and apoptosis. The increasingly complex regulatory mechanisms of Notch signaling account for the multitude of functions exhibited by Notch during development. This study identified Hat-trick (Htk), a DNA binding protein, as an interacting partner of Notch-ICD in a yeast two-hybrid screen and their physical interaction was further validated by co-immunoprecipitation experiments. htk genetically interacts with Notch pathway components in trans-heterozygous combinations. Loss of htk function in htk mutant somatic clones showed down-regulation of Notch targets, whereas over-expression of htk caused ectopic expression of Notch target, without affecting the level of Notch protein. Immunocytochemical analysis has demonstrated that Htk co-localizes with over-expressed Notch-ICD in the same nuclear compartment. This study has shown that Htk cooperates with Notch-ICD and Suppressor of Hairless to form activation complex and binds to the regulatory sequences of Notch downstream targets, Enhancer of Split complex genes to direct their expression. Taken together, these results suggest a novel mode of regulation of Notch signaling by a chromatin modeling protein Htk.

BIOLOGICAL OVERVIEW

Notch is a surface receptor. It transmits signals received from outside the cell to the cell's interior. Notch ligands, such as Delta, Serrate and Scabrous interact with epidermal growth factor repeats contained in Notch's extracellular domain.

The intracellular domain of Notch binds Suppressor of Hairless, a multifunction transcription factor that acts as a signal transducing molecule shuttling between the cytoplasm and the nucleus. The intracellular domain of Notch might also have a nuclear function, as first suggested by Lieber, 1993. A nuclear function has been documented for the mammalian Notch homolog (Lu, 1996), and has now been documented for Drosophila as well (Struhl, 1998).

When Notch is bound by a ligand, a signal is passed across the cell membrane releasing the Suppressor of Hairless protein, freeing this protein to enter the nucleus and assume its role in activating transcription of Enhancer of split complex genes. E(spl)-C proteins act in turn to repress the adoption of neural and other differentiated states. Deltex, an intracellular docking protein, replaces Suppressor of Hairless as Su(H) leaves the site of interaction with the intracellular tail of Notch.

The Notch receptor is function is called neurogenic, but this confusing nomenclature refers to the phenotype established in the absence of functional Notch. Notch's function is to repress the adoption of differentiation by cells that carry the Notch protein. A look at the principle ligand of Notch (Delta) and its function makes the anti-neural function of Notch more easily understood.

Delta is not secreted, but is cell bound. The Delta-Notch interaction serves a cell adhesive function between ligand and receptor bearing cells. The receptor bearing cell is inhibited in assuming a differentitated state, while the ligand bearing cell is free to do so. During neurogenesis, this latter cell delaminates, that is, it migrates out of the epithelial cell layer in which it formerly resided, and assumes the differentiated state of a neuroblast in its new physical location within the developing nervous system. Thus Notch is involved in neurogenesis with respect to cells that bears the ligands for Notch: Delta, Serrate and Scabrous.

Lateral inhibition is a process whereby a single cell is fated to differentiate through the interaction of Notch-Delta, while other cells simultaneously retain their undifferentiated state. A state of competition is imposed upon a cluster of cells. Perhaps the single cell, seemingly selected at random, is the one with the highest density of ligand. However, very little is left to chance. Three other proteins are involved in fate determination of the selected cell. Inscuteable, Numb, Prospero assure a neural fate for the ligand bearing cell The selected cell proceeds along a neural differentiation pathway, synthesizing higher levels of the proneural proteins, Achaete and Scute.

Lateral inhibition is one of the major themes of development. The process of lateral inhibition and cell selection is repeated hundreds of times in Drosophila, with differentiation that takes place in nearly every kind of tissue. For example, Notch is required to limit the number of neural precursors, limit the number of muscle precursors, limit the growth of Malpighian tubules, and regulate the growth of the ovary. Notch also functions as receptor for both Serrate and Delta in organizing the dorsal-ventral boundary of the wing. One important target of Serrate and Notch in this context is wingless (Diaz-Benjumea, 1995).

Two extreme models can be envisioned for lateral inhibition. The first implicates the Notch pathway in the choice of a single precursor via a negative feedback loop. This process could be random in some cases. The second model postulates that the precursor is pre-determined by some mechanism other than Notch signaling, and that Notch signaling then serves only to mediate mutual, uniform repression of other cells and ensure development of a single precursor. Studies concerning the physical spacing of precursors for the microchaetes of the peripheral nervous system suggest the existence of a regulatory loop under transcriptional control between Notch and its ligand Delta. Activation of Notch leads to repression of the achaete-scute genes, which are themselves known to regulate transcription of Delta; this regulation may perhaps be direct (Seugnet, 1997a).

Neuroblast segregation was studied in embryos lacking both the maternal and the zygotic forms of either Notch or Delta. A seven-up-LacZ marker was used to follow neuralization of 5-2 and 7-4 neuroblast groups. In the absence of Notch signaling, the cells with an equivalence group do not enter the neural differentiation pathway simultaneously. Neuralization within a group is progressive with two or three cells segregating early and several more later. This suggests that neural potential is not evenly distributed among these cells. A requirement for transcriptional regulation of Notch and/or Delta during neuroblast segregation in embryos was tested by providing Notch and Delta ubiquitously at uniform levels. Neuroblast segregation occurs normally under conditions of uniform Notch expression, suggesting that transcriptional regulation of Notch is not necessary for many aspects of development of the larval CNS and PNS. In particular, it is dispensable both before and after neuroblast segregation, implying that it is not a necessary component of neuroblast segregation, per se. Under conditions of uniform Delta expression, a single neuroblast segregates from each proneural group in 80% of the cases; in the remaining 20%, more than one neuroblast segregates from a single group of cells. Thus transcriptional regulation of Delta is largely dispensable, with only a small percentage of multiple neurons segregating in each cluster. The possibility is discussed that segregation of single precursors in the central nervous system may rely on a heterogeneous distribution of neural potential between different cells of the proneural group. Genes such as achaete, scute, extramacrochaete, and wingless could be responsible for local differences in proneural activity. Notch signaling would enable all cells to mutually repress one another; only a cell with an elevated neural potential could overcome this repression (Seugnet, 1997a).

Wingless modulates the effects of dominant negative notch molecules in the developing wing of Drosophila

The development and patterning of the wing in Drosophila relies on a sequence of cell interactions molecularly driven by a number of ligands and receptors. Genetic analysis indicates that a receptor encoded by the Notch gene and a signal encoded by the wingless gene play a number of interdependent roles in this process and display very strong functional interactions. At certain times and places, during wing development, the expression of wingless requires Notch activity and that of its ligands Delta and Serrate. This has led to the proposal that all the interactions between Notch and wingless can be understood in terms of this regulatory relationship. This proposal has been tested by analyzing interactions between Delta- and Serrate-activated Notch signaling and Wingless signaling during wing development and patterning. Cell death caused by expressing dominant negative Notch molecules during wing development cannot be rescued by coexpressing Nintra. This suggests that the dominant negative Notch molecules cannot only disrupt Delta and Serrate signaling but can also disrupt signaling through another pathway. One possibility is the Wingless signaling pathway, since the cell death caused by expressing dominant negative Notch molecules can be rescued by activating Wingless signaling. Furthermore, the outcome of the interactions between Notch and Wingless signaling differs when Wingless signaling is activated by expressing either Wingless itself or an activated form of the Armadillo. For example, the effect of expressing the activated form of Armadillo with a dominant negative Notch on the patterning of sense organ precursors in the wing resembles the effects of expressing Wingless alone. This result suggests that signaling activated by Wingless leads to two effects: a reduction of Notch signaling and an activation of Armadillo (Brennan, 1999a).

Expression of a dominant negative Notch molecule (Extracellular Notch or ECN) throughout the developing wing mimics the effects of loss of Notch function. However, Nintra cannot rescue the cell death caused by overexpressing ECN. Since Nintra provides constitutive signaling for Delta and Serrate during wing development and the effects of ECN are mediated by the sequestration of extracellular molecules that can interact with Notch, this suggests that the ECN molecule is sequestering extracellular molecules other than Delta and Serrate and attenuating signaling through another pathway. One candidate pathway is the Wingless signaling pathway, since the cell death caused by expressing the ECN can be rescued by activating Wingless signaling. Therefore, it is possible that the ECN molecule is sequestering the Wingless protein. The possibility that Wingless can bind the extracellular domain of Notch is supported by the results that are presented here, in particular, by two observations: first, that some of the deleterious effects of ECN can be suppressed by Wingless, but not Wingless signaling in the form of a constitutively active Armadillo molecule; and second, that this interaction requires specific EGF-like repeats of Notch, namely repeats 17-19 and 24-26 but not 10-12. Evidence for a physical interaction between Notch and Wingless has also been provided recently by Wesley (1999) who finds that the Wingless protein is enriched in a biopanning assay designed to identify proteins that interact with the extracellular domain of the Notch protein and that Wingless can be immunoprecipitated with Notch from embryo extracts and cultured cells. These experiments also show that the association of Wingless with Notch requires the integrity of a region of Notch centered around EGF-like repeats 24-26 (Wesley, 1999) which these experiments indicate are essential for the interactions that are described between Wingless and ECN during wing development and patterning (Brennan, 1999a).

High levels of Wingless throughout the developing wing induce widespread development of sensory organs, an observation that correlates with the requirement for Wingless in this process during normal development. However, it is consistently observed that an activated form of Armadillo has a much weaker effect than Wingless on neural development. However, the difference is unlikely to be due to a weak UASarm* insert used in these experiments since in other instances where only a Wingless signal is required, such as the induction of the wing primordium during the early events of wing development, overexpressing Arm* or Wingless has very similar effects. A possible insight into the differences that the expression of Wingless and Arm* has on neurogenesis comes from the experiments where these two proteins are coexpressed with the ECN molecule. In these experiments the phenotypes generated by expressing UASECN with UASwg or UASarm* are very similar; namely, disrupting Notch signaling by expressing the ECN protein makes UASarm* and UASwg functionally equivalent. This suggests that the difference between the phenotypes generated by expressing Wingless and Arm* on their own might arise from the ability of Wingless to inhibit Notch signaling, which Arm* is unable to do; attenuating Notch signaling blocks lateral inhibition, which leads to increased numbers of sense organs. Since Wingless can activate Armadillo, overexpression of Wingless can achieve both effects simultaneously (Brennan, 1999a).

When Arm* is coexpressed with ECN, the dominant negative molecule reduces Notch signaling, providing the function of Wingless that is missing in Arm* and thus making this molecule functionally equivalent to Wingless. These results raise the question of how Wingless signaling inhibits Notch signaling and where in the Wingless signaling pathway the cross-talk between the two pathways occurs. The inability of Arm* to inhibit Notch signaling indicates that the cross-talk must occur upstream of Armadillo. One possibility is that the inhibition occurs through Wingless interacting with the extracellular portion of Notch, preventing the Notch protein from interacting with its ligands. However, it is more likely to occur through the interaction of Dishevelled with the intracellular domain of the Notch protein, which has been shown previously to inhibit Notch signaling (Axelrod, 1996). In keeping with this, it has been found that overexpressing the Dishevelled protein can induce sense organ development as effectively as overexpressing Wingless; this suggests that Dishevelled can also disrupt Notch signaling as effectively as Wingless. Finally, it is possible that the interaction of Notch with both Dishevelled and Wingless is required to inhibit Delta signaling through Notch, since it has been shown previously that the ability to overexpress Dishevelled, which induces supernumerary sense organs, requires Wingless function (Axelrod, 1996). The interference of Wingless signaling with Notch signaling can also provide an explanation for the effects of ectopic expression of Wingless on the patterning of the veins and its sensitivity to the concentration of Delta. Overexpression of Wingless would reduce the availability of Notch for lateral inhibition by causing Dishevelled to sequester Notch into complexes that are unable to transduce the Delta signal. This would reduce the effectiveness of lateral inhibition signaling, an effect which would be exaggerated in situations of limiting signaling, as is observe in Dl heterozygotes or when Wingless is coexpressed with ECN (Brennan, 1999a).

The interaction of Wingless and Notch signaling that has been observed might also be important during normal neural development. Wingless and Delta have opposite effects during neurogenesis; Wingless promotes while Delta suppresses the development of sense organs. Various experiments suggest that during the segregation of neural precursors a reduction of Notch signaling in the precursors themselves is as important as the Delta-mediated activation of Notch signaling in the surrounding cells. It is possible that, like the activation of Notch by Delta, the suppression of Notch signaling is an active process mediated by the interaction of Wingless and Dishevelled with Notch. If this were the case, since both Delta and Wingless have spatially and temporally regulated patterns of gene expression, their interactions with Notch could contribute to the well-documented bias in the appearance of precursors from clusters of cells with neural potential. This competitive interaction could also account for the observed increases in Wingless signaling associated with reductions in Notch signaling during lateral inhibition (Brennan, 1999a).

Disruption of Drosophila melanogaster lipid metabolism genes causes tissue overgrowth associated with altered developmental signaling

Developmental patterning requires the precise interplay of numerous intercellular signaling pathways to ensure that cells are properly specified during tissue formation and organogenesis. The spatiotemporal function of many developmental pathways is strongly influenced by the biosynthesis and intracellular trafficking of signaling components. Receptors and ligands must be trafficked to the cell surface where they interact, and their subsequent endocytic internalization and endosomal trafficking is critical for both signal propagation and its down-modulation. In a forward genetic screen for mutations that alter intracellular Notch receptor trafficking in Drosophila melanogaster, mutants were recovered that disrupt genes encoding serine palmitoyltransferase and Acetyl-CoA Carboxylase (ACC). Both mutants cause Notch, Wingless, the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR), and Patched to accumulate abnormally in endosomal compartments. In mosaic animals, mutant tissues exhibit an unusual non-cell-autonomous effect whereby mutant cells are functionally rescued by secreted activities emanating from adjacent wildtype tissue. Strikingly, both mutants display prominent tissue overgrowth phenotypes that are partially attributable to altered Notch and Wnt signaling. This analysis of the mutants demonstrates genetic links between abnormal lipid metabolism, perturbations in developmental signaling, and aberrant cell proliferation (Sasamura, 2013).

The importance of lipid metabolism for the formation and maintenance of cell membranes is well established. Both serine palmitoyltransferase (SPT) and acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC) are critical enzymes that control different steps of lipid metabolism, and are highly conserved in diverse animal species. Genetic elimination of ACC1 or the SPT subunits Sptlc1 or Sptlc2 cause early embryonic lethality in mice, although the cellular basis for this lethality is unknown. In D. melanogaster, RNA-interfering disruption of ACC activity in the fat body results in reduced triglyceride storage and increased glycogen accumulation, and in oenocytes leads to loss of watertightness of the tracheal spiracles causing fluid entry into the respiratory system. This study demonstrates that D. melanogaster mutants lacking functional SPT or ACC exhibit endosomal trafficking defects, causing Notch, Wingless, EGFR, and Patched to accumulate abnormally in endosomes and lysosomes. These effects are accompanied by significant alterations in Notch and Wingless signaling, as revealed by changes in downstream target gene activation for both pathways. However, the mutants do not fully inactivate these developmental signaling pathways, and instead display phenotypes consistent with more complex, pleiotropic effects on Notch, Wingless, and potentially additional pathways in different tissues. These findings reinforce the importance of lipid metabolism for the maintenance of proper developmental signaling, a concept that has also emerged from studies demonstrating that: D. melanogaster mutants for phosphocholine cytidylyltransferase alter endosomal trafficking and signaling of Notch and EGFR; mutants for alpha-1,4-N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase-1 affect endocytosis and activity of the Notch ligands Delta and Serrate; mutants for the ceramide synthase gene shlank disrupt Wingless endocytic trafficking and signaling, and mutants for the glycosphingolipid metabolism genes egghead and brainiac modify the extracellular gradient of the EGFR ligand Gurken (Sasamura, 2013).

Most strikingly, lace and ACC mutants also display prominent tissue overgrowth phenotypes. These tissue overgrowth effects are linked to changes in Notch and Wingless signaling outputs, and they involve gamma-secretase, Su(H), and Armadillo activities, suggesting that the overgrowth reflects an interplay of Wingless inactivation and Notch hyperactivation. Consistent with the findings, both Notch and Wingless regulate cell proliferation and imaginal disc size in D. melanogaster. Moreover, several observations indicate that Notch and Wingless are jointly regulated by endocytosis, with opposing effects on their respective downstream pathway activities, a dynamic process that might be especially sensitive to perturbations in membrane lipid constituents. Wingless itself exerts opposing effects on disc size that might depend on the particular developmental stage or disc territory. For example, hyperactivation of Wingless or inactivation of its negative regulators cause overproliferation, but Wingless activity can also constrain wing disc growth. Similar spatiotemporal effects might underlie the variability detected in studies with lace and ACC mutant clones, in which both tissue overgrowth and developmentally arrested discs were observed. Although no obvious changes were detected in downstream signaling for several other cell growth pathways that were examined, the trafficking abnormalities seen for other membrane proteins aside from Notch, Delta, and Wingless, as well as the incomplete suppression of the overgrowth phenotypes by blockage of Notch and Wingless signaling, suggest that other pathways might also be dysregulated in lace and ACC mutants, possibly contributing to the observed tissue overgrowth (Sasamura, 2013).

Wingless is modified by lipid addition, and lipoprotein vesicles have been suggested to control Wingless diffusion. In D. melanogaster embryos, endocytosis of Wingless limits its diffusion and ability to act as a long-range morphogen. Endocytosis can also affect Wingless signaling in receiving cells, where endocytosis both promotes signal downregulation and positively facilitates signaling. The apparently normal diffusion ranges for overaccumulated Wingless in lace and ACC mutant clones, yet reduced downstream target gene expression, is consistent with the idea that SPT and ACC act by promoting endocytic trafficking of Wingless in receiving cells rather than influencing the secretion and/or diffusion of Wingless from signal-sending cells (Sasamura, 2013).

The finding that lace and ACC mutant overgrowth phenotypes are also partially Notch-dependent is reminiscent of similar overproliferation phenotypes seen in certain D. melanogaster endocytic mutants, such as vps25, and tsg101. The overproliferation of disc tissue in these mutants is attributable to Notch hyperactivation, reflecting the fact that non-ligand-bound Notch receptors that are normally targeted for recycling or degradation are instead retained and signal from endosomes. Analogous effects are likely to contribute to the lace and ACC mutant overgrowth, where significant Notch overaccumulation was observed throughout the endosomal-lysosomal routing pathway. Some ectopic Notch signaling might emanate from the lysosomal compartment, which is enlarged and accumulates particularly high levels of Notch in lace and ACC mutant clones. Analysis of D. melanogaster HOPS and AP-3 mutants, which affect protein delivery to lysosomes, has identified a lysosomal pool of Notch that is able to signal in a ligand-independent, gamma-secretase-dependent manner (Sasamura, 2013).

How do SPT and ACC contribute to endosomal trafficking of Notch and other proteins? In the yeast SPT mutant lcb1, an early step of endocytosis is impaired due to defective actin attachment to endosomes, a phenotype that is suppressed by addition of sphingoid base. However, the trafficking abnormalities seen in lace and ACC mutants do not resemble those in the yeast lcb1 mutant, perhaps because endocytic vesicle fission is primarily dependent upon dynamin in D. melanogaster and mammals, instead of actin as in yeast. Nevertheless, the requirement for SPT and ACC in D. melanogaster endosomal compartments might reflect possible functions in endosome-cytoskeleton interactions. Another possibility is that the defective endosomal trafficking seen in lace and ACC mutants is caused by the inability to synthesize specific phospholipids needed for normal membrane homeostasis. Finally, lace and ACC might be important for the formation and/or function of lipid rafts, specialized membrane microdomains that have been implicated in both signaling and protein trafficking (Sasamura, 2013).

A remarkable feature of the lace and ACC mutant phenotypes that suggests an underlying defect in lipid biogenesis is the non-autonomous effect in mutant tissue clones, wherein nearby wildtype cells generate a secreted activity that diffuses several cell diameters into the mutant tissue and rescues the trafficking and signaling defects. One possibility is that these secreted activities are diffusible lipid biosynthetic products of SPT and ACC, which enter the mutant cells and serve as precursors for further biosynthetic steps that do not require SPT or ACC. An intriguing alternative is that the SPT and ACC enzymes are themselves secreted and taken up by the mutant cells. A precedent for this mechanism has recently been demonstrated for D. melanogaster ceramidase, a sphingolipid metabolic enzyme that is secreted extracellularly, delivered to photoreceptors, and internalized by endocytosis to regulate photoreceptor cell membrane turnover (Sasamura, 2013).

Recent work has highlighted the importance of lipid metabolism for oncogenic transformation, and ACC has been advanced as a promising target for cancer drug development. ACC is upregulated in some cancers, possibly as a result of high demands for lipid biosynthesis during rapid cell divisions. Sphingolipids and their derivatives are also thought to influence the balance of apoptosis and cell proliferation during tissue growth, and thus have also garnered attention as potential cancer therapy targets. The current findings regarding the requirements of SPT and ACC for proper trafficking and signaling of key developmental cell-surface signaling molecules, including Notch and Wingless, provide insights into how lipid metabolic enzymes might influence cell proliferation and tissue patterning in multicellular animals. Complex lipid biosynthesis is essential for the creation of the elaborate, interconnected, and highly specialized membrane compartments in which developmental pathways operate, and perturbations in lipid biosynthesis that are tolerated by the cell might nevertheless exert significant pleiotropic effects on developmental patterning, cell proliferation, and other cellular processes. Exploration of lipid metabolic enzymes as pharmacological targets must therefore take into account potentially unfavorable effects on critical signaling pathways controlling development and organogenesis (Sasamura, 2013).

A re-examination of the selection of the sensory organ precursor of the bristle sensilla of Drosophila melanogaster

The bristle sensillum of the imago of Drosophila is made of four cells that arise from a sensory organ precursor cell (SOP). This SOP is selected within proneural clusters (PNC) through a mechanism that involves Notch signalling. PNCs are defined through the expression domains of the proneural genes, whose activities enables cells to become SOPs. They encode tissue specific bHLH proteins that form functional heterodimers with the bHLH protein Daughterless (Da). In the prevailing lateral inhibition model for SOP selection, a transcriptional feedback loop that involves the Notch pathway amplifies small differences of proneural activity between cells of the PNC. As a result only one or two cells accumulate sufficient proneural activity to adopt the SOP fate. Most of the experiments that sustained the prevailing lateral inhibition model were performed a decade ago. This study re-examined the selection process using recently available reagents. The data suggest a different picture of SOP selection. They indicate that a band-like region of proneural activity exists. In this proneural band the activity of the Notch pathway is required in combination with Emc to define the PNCs. A sub-group in the PNCs was found from which a pre-selected SOP arises. The data indicate that most imaginal disc cells are able to adopt a proneural state from which they can progress to become SOPs. They further show that bristle formation can occur in the absence of the proneural genes if the function of emc is abolished. These results suggest that the tissue specific proneural proteins of Drosophila have a similar function as in the vertebrates, which is to determine the time of emergence and position of the SOP and to stabilise the proneural state (Troost, 2015).

This study has re-examined the development of the SOP of the MC (macrochaetae) using recently available reagents. Evidence was found that strongly suggests that the range of the Notch signal is restricted to the next cell: The elevated expression of Notch activity reporter Gbe+Su(H) around the SOP is observed only in adjacent cells. In addition, cells of PNCs that are not able to receive the Notch signal, but can send a strong signal to adjacent wildtype cells, cannot prevent a wildtype cell from adopting the SOP fate at a distance of two cell diameters away. Likewise, cells that are not able to send a signal cannot be prevented by wildtype SOPs from adopting the SOP fate more than one cell diameter away. These results suggest that the discovered filopodia of the SOP, which contact more remotely located cells do not extend the range of the inhibitory signal to these cells (Troost, 2015).

This study reveals the existence of a band of proneural activity. The PNCs are regions of elevated proneural activity in this band, rather than discrete clusters. In the band, the Notch pathway exerts an additional novel function, which defines the extent of the PNCs. In the absence of Notch function, most cells in the proneural band accumulate high levels of proneural activity that allows them to become SOPs. Thus, the pathway suppresses the proneural activity and the SOP fate in cells located between the PNCs in the proneural band. The short range of the Notch signal indicates that it is probably local mutual signalling among direct neighbours that generates the necessary Notch activity (mutual inhibition). The expression of Dl and Ser and the overall activity of Gbe+Su(H) (with exception of the halos) is unchanged in the absence of Ac and Sc. This suggests that the widespread activity of Notch in the notum that prevents most cells in the proneural band to become SOPs is not influenced by the proneural factors. It provides a baseline activity of Notch that suppresses the proneural activity in the band to prevent the formation of ectopic SOPs (Troost, 2015).

The presented results indicate that a subgroup within the PNCs exists, which is operationally defined via the requirement of the activity of Neur. The existence of a subgroup has previously been suggested on basis of experiments with a temperature sensitive allele of Notch. These data and the ones presented here, suggest that the cells of the subgroup require Notch activity that is stronger than the baseline activity to be inhibited from adopting the SOP fate. This increase in activity is generated by the nascent SOP through a Neur enhanced Dl signal: This study found that if only one cell in the subgroup is neur positive, it can prevent all other neur mutant members to adopt the SOP fate. Thus, initiating the expression of Neur first, is a critical step for a cell to adopt the SOP fate, since it allows a cell to strongly inhibit its neighbours. The inhibitory signal prevents the accumulation of sufficient proneural activity to also activate Neur in the neighbours. This inhibition is probably reflected in the observed halo of Gbe+Su(H) expression around SOPs. The findings are in good agreement with a previous study that showed that the level of Neur in a cell is a critical factor for the formation of the SOP of the microchaetae (mc) (Troost, 2015).

Loss of Notch activity results in expression of Neur and a dramatic increase in proneural activity in all cells of the PNC. Moreover, the nascent SOP, which contains the highest proneural activity, is the only cell that initiates Neur expression during normal development and expression of neur is abolished in ac sc mutant discs. These data indicate, that high proneural activity is required for the expression of Neur. Thus, the cell in the subgroup with the highest proneural activity is the cell that will express Neur first. The expression of Neur enables it to inhibit its neighbours from adopting the SOP fate by suppressing their proneural activity (Troost, 2015).

One generated through mutual signalling, which is not regulated by Ac and Sc and is sufficient to inhibit all cells in the proneural band outside the neur subgroup to become SOPs. This signalling requires the ubiquitously expressed Mib1 and antagonises the activity of Ac, Sc and Da. However, there is residual activity of Notch in mib1 mutants sufficient to prevent most cells from adopting the SOP fate. This residual activity is generated either independently of E3 ligases or by another unknown E3-ligase. In any case this component contributes to the baseline activity of the Notch pathway in addition to Mib1. The second activity on top of the baseline activity in the neur subgroup is generated by a Neur mediated strong signal from the nascent SOP. This signal suppresses the proneural activity of the other members of the neur subgroup. It is dependent on proneural activity, which initiates the expression of Neur. Thus, lateral inhibition is probably operating after the emerging SOP reaches a threshold of proneural activity. It serves to prevent the formation of supernumerary SOPs in the neur group and assures that other cells can generate the necessary SOP in case the selected one is lost (Troost, 2015).

How is the neur subgroup defined? It was found that the PNCs are small in their beginning, comprising the number of cells typical for the subgroup. These cells probably also constitute the small groups of SOPs observed in early third instar discs mutant for Psn. It is likely that E(spl)m8-SM expression defines this subgroup since this study shows that it is expressed in a small group of cells from which the SOP arises. This construct contains only one E box, the binding sites for Ac and Sc, and response to high proneural activity. It is therefore believed that the cells of the early PNC are the neur group and possess the highest proneural activity (Troost, 2015).

During normal development, a cell with more proneural activity is already recognisable at the early phase of the PNCs. This suggests the existence of a pre-selection mechanism that assures that one cell in the neur-subgroup is advanced in its development. Evidence for such a mechanism has been also previously found during rescue experiments studying the function of the proneural genes Ac and Sc. This study has obtained additional experimental evidence for this pre-selecting mechanism: In neur clones one of the cells is advanced in its development towards the SOP fate. Moreover, clonal analysis of kuz and Psn mutants revealed that wildtype cells at positions in the PNC where the SOP arises cannot be prevented from adopting the SOP fate, even if a mutant SOP that cannot be inhibited (e.g., kuz mutant), is its neighbour. The mutant cells can generate a strong inhibitory Notch signal. This indicates that the pre-selecting mechanism renders the wildtype SOP immune to the signal. The nature of this mechanism is not clear, nor whether it is always the same cell in a cluster that is selected (Troost, 2015).

Recent work demonstrated that in the eye disc a regulatory loop between Da and Emc assures correct expression of both factors and results in their complementary expression. Consequently, loss of emc function results in an increase of expression of Da. The consequences of this up-regulation for the proneural state of the mutant cells have not been investigated in detail. A published study focused on the eye imaginal disc and revealed that a few of the mutant cells in clones could adopt the neural fate. The neural cells do not express Runt, a marker expressed in the normal neural cells. Thus, the loss of emc does not result in the complete determination of the neural fate. The state of the vast majority of the cells in clones remained unknown. This study observed up-regulation of proneural activity in emc clones already in early third instar wing imaginal discs, indicating that it is an immediate reaction to the loss of emc function. Some of these cells progress to become SOPs. The increase in proneural activity was also observed in emc clones of the leg disc. Thus, the cells of imaginal discs must be permanently inhibited from adopting a proneural state through the activity of Emc. It has to be pointed out that this situation is remarkably similar to that in the early vertebrate embryo, where all cells of the blastula adopt the proneural state unless they are inhibited through BMP signalling. The cells of the neural plate maintain the proneural state due to the presence of BMP antagonists (Troost, 2015).

In the eye disc and during oogenesis expression of Emc is regulated by the Notch pathway. This study failed to find evidence that supports a regulatory relationship between Emc and the pathway in the notum during SOP development, since the loss of Psn function did not affect the expression of EMC. However, it has been previously shown that the expression of Emc along the dorso-ventral boundary in the wing primordium depends on the activity of the Notch pathway. This correlates well with the finding that this domain is independent of the activity of Da. However, the genetic network of the wing is significantly different from that in the notum. For example Notch signalling induces the expression of Wg along the D/V boundary. However, its expression in the proximal wing and in the notum is independent of the activity of the Notch pathway. This appears to be true also for the different domains of expression of Emc (Troost, 2015).

This study found that the function of ac and sc is dispensable for bristle development in the absence of emc function. How is the SOP fate initiated in these emc ac sc triple mutant cells? It is believed that the activity of Da is sufficient for SOP development in this situation for the following reasons: 1) Da is expressed ubiquitously and is required for the formation of all external sense organs. 2) Strong over-expression of Da induces bristle formation in cells that lack the whole AS-C. In contrast, over-expression of Sc fails to induce SOP formation in the absence of Da. 3) Da can form homodimers that bind to the same DNA target sequences as Ac/Da and Sc/Da heterodimers in bend-shift assays. 4) Loss of emc activity increases the activity of Da. This study show that this increase is independent of the activity of Ac and Sc. 5) The results show that Da regulates the expression of sca independently of Ac and Sc. 6) It has been shown that the mammalian homologue of Da, E2A, acts without its class II partners during B-cell development. Thus, it is likely that in the absence of function of emc, ac and sc, Da forms active homo-dimers that initiate the required neural program (Troost, 2015).

While it is clear that the activity of Ac and Sc is required during normal development, the formation of normal bristles in their absence after concomitant loss of emc function raises the question about their function. The data suggest that an important function is the neutralisation of Emc through formation of heterodimers with it or with Da. This releases Da from inactive heterodimers with Emc. The neutralisation of Emc by Ac and Sc, which are expressed in precise spatial and temporal regulated patterns, allows the differentiation of neural precursors at the correct position and time. The recent finding that a Sc variant without its transactivation domain is fully active fits well to this view of the function of Ac and Sc. Thus, through their intricate and dynamic expression, Ac and Sc and other tissue specific proneural factors determine when and where a neural precursor cell develops. In this view the function of the tissue-specific proneural genes of Drosophila, is similar to that in mammals where their orthologs also promote differentiation of neural precursors in a proneural field, the neural plate, at correct positions and time (Troost, 2015).

Based on the current results, a working model is suggested for the selection of the SOP of the MC: The differential expression of Emc defines a proneural band in the notum with changing proneural activity. The PNCs in this band are determined and positioned through the cluster-like expression of Ac and Sc, which increases the proneural activity at these positions. A baseline of activity of the Notch pathway generated by mutual inhibition prevents cells between the PNCs to accumulate high levels of proneural activity. In addition, it prevents cells located in the PNC, but outside the neur group, to accumulate high proneural activity required for adopting the SOP fate (Troost, 2015).

In the PNCs, expression of Ac and Sc neutralise Emc. Consequently, the proneural activity increases dramatically, since the released Da can form homodimers and/or heterodimers with Ac or Sc. The cells of the initial small PNCs later constitute the neur subgroup. The cells of this subgroup have the highest level of proneural activity and experience this activity also for the longest time. Within this subgroup a cell is pre-selected to become the SOP by a so far unidentified mechanism. Hence, it is the first to reach the threshold level of proneural activity required to initiate the expression of Neur. The expression of Neur enables it to efficiently inhibit the other cells of the subgroup through lateral inhibition. As a consequence these cells never accumulate sufficient proneural activity to activate Neur expression and to become a SOP. The strong signal also further activates the expression of Brd proteins that inhibit the activation of Neur, which might be accidentally activated weakly in one of the neighbours. This activation contributes to the precision of determination process. Thus, a combination of mutual and lateral inhibition mediated by the Notch pathway operates in the PNC during the determination of the SOP. Only the lateral inhibition component depends on proneural activity through transcriptional activation of expression of Neur (Troost, 2015).

The model differs from the lateral inhibition model in the following points: No feedback loop between expression of Dl and proneural activity and, hence, no differential Dl expression is required. Instead the future SOP is pre-selected and advanced in its development. Subgroups within a proneural band defined through its requirement of Neur exist. In this subgroup the activation of the expression of Neur is critical for SOP development since it enables a cell to potently inhibit its neighbours. The pre-selection mechanism favours a cell at the right position to initiate the expression of Neur before the others of the Neur group and therefore secures its development as SOP. Moreover, the existence of mutual signalling explains the inhibition of cells in the proneural band outside the subgroup without the necessity of signalling of Dl over longer distances (Troost, 2015).

Intra-lineage fate decisions involve activation of Notch receptors basal to the midbody in Drosophila sensory organ precursor cells

Notch receptors regulate cell fate decisions during embryogenesis and throughout adult life. In many cell lineages, binary fate decisions are mediated by directional Notch signaling between the two sister cells produced by cell division. How Notch signaling is restricted to sister cells after division to regulate intra-lineage decision is poorly understood. More generally, where ligand-dependent activation of Notch occurs at the cell surface is not known, as methods to detect receptor activation in vivo are lacking. In Drosophila pupae, Notch signals during cytokinesis to regulate the intra-lineage pIIa/pIIb decision in the sensory organ lineage. This study identified two pools of Notch along the pIIa-pIIb interface, apical and basal to the midbody. Analysis of the dynamics of Notch, Delta, and Neuralized distribution in living pupae suggests that ligand endocytosis and receptor activation occur basal to the midbody. Using selective photo-bleaching of GFP-tagged Notch and photo-tracking of photo-convertible Notch, this study showed that nuclear Notch is indeed produced by receptors located basal to the midbody. Thus, only a specific subset of receptors, located basal to the midbody, contributes to signaling in pIIa. This is the first in vivo characterization of the pool of Notch contributing to signaling. A simple mechanism of cell fate decision based on intra-lineage signaling is proposed: ligands and receptors localize during cytokinesis to the new cell-cell interface, thereby ensuring signaling between sister cells, hence intra-lineage fate decision (Trylinski, 2017).

Several methods are currently available to monitor in vivo the signaling activity of Notch by measuring the level and/or activity of NICD. By contrast, in vivo reporters for ligand-receptor interaction, conformational change of Notch in response to mechanical force, and S2 cleavage of Notch are lacking. Consequently, the subcellular location of Notch receptor activation in vivo and the relative contribution of the different pools of Notch to signaling remain unknown. Two complementary fluorescent-based approaches have been developed in this study to track where NICD comes from. Notch receptors present basal to the midbody along the pIIa-pIIb interface were shown to contribute to the accumulation of NICD, whereas receptors located apical to the midbody did not significantly contribute to NICD production. This study provides the first in vivo analysis of ligand-dependent Notch receptor activation at the cell surface. Moreover, the photo-bleaching and photo-conversion approaches used in this study should be broadly applicable in model organisms that can be genetically engineered and easily imaged (Trylinski, 2017).

Other sites of Notch activation had previously been proposed in pIIa. In one model, based on the specific requirements for Arp2/3 and WASp activities for both Notch signaling and actin organization, Dl at apical microvilli in pIIb would activate Notch located apically in pIIa. However, loss of Arp2/3 activity also disrupted cortical actin along the basal pIIa-pIIb interface, suggesting that regulation of the actin cytoskeleton at this location, rather than at microvilli, may be key for receptor activation. In a second model, Dl-Notch signaling was proposed to occur at the new apical pIIa-pIIb junction. This model was largely based on the detection of Notch at this location. The current study, however, indicated that this pool of Notch did not significantly contribute to the production of NICD in pIIa. In a third model, Notch activation was proposed to occur in specific Sara-positive endosomes in pIIa. Whereas the possible contribution of these endosomes to NICD production could not be directly addressed by photo-tracking, two lines of evidence suggest that their contribution can only be minor. First, live imaging of Notch failed to detect this pool indicating that this pool represents a minor fraction of Notch in pIIa. Second, symmetric partitioning of Sara endosomes did not affect the pIIa-pIIb decision, indicating that this proposed pool is not essential for fate asymmetry. Finally, the nature of the mechanical force acting on Notch at the limiting membrane of the Sara-positive endosomes remains to be addressed. In summary, all available data are fully consistent with the conclusion that receptor activation occurs mostly basal to the midbody (Trylinski, 2017).

Whereas these experiments identified the signaling pool of Notch along the pIIa-pIIb, they did not, however, address whether S3 cleavage takes place at the cell surface or intracellularly following endocytosis. Indeed, the photo-tracking approach used in this study did not inform whether the activation of Notch by Delta, i.e., s2 cleavage, is followed by S3 cleavage at the same location or whether S2-processed Notch is internalized to be further processed in signaling endosomes. It is noted, however, that the accumulation of lateral Notch observed in Psn mutant cells is consistent with S3 cleavage taking place, at least in part, at the cell surface (Trylinski, 2017).

This work also sheds new light on the general mechanism whereby Notch signaling is specifically restricted to sister cells within a lineage. In several tissues, including the gut, lung, and CNS, Notch regulates intra-lineage decisions between sister cells soon after mitosis. In this study it is proposed that Notch-mediated intra-lineage decisions are directly linked to division. Indeed, it is suggested that ligands and receptors localize to the lateral membranes that separate the two sister cells at cytokinesis so that Dl-Notch signaling is primarily restricted to sister cells. Thus, neighboring cells - belonging to other cell lineages - would not interfere with intra-lineage fate decisions. The current data indicating that Neur-dependent activation of Notch by Dl predominantly occurs along the pIIa-pIIb lateral interface, basal to the midbody during cytokinesis, fully support this model. Also, the observation that core components of the secretory machinery, e.g., Sec15, are specifically required for Notch signaling in the context of intra-lineage decisions is also consistent with this view. Thus, targeting both receptors and ligands along the newly formed interface during cytokinesis provides an elegant mechanism to restrict signaling between sister cells, thereby ensuring that intra-lineage signaling regulates intra-lineage fate decision. Because Notch generates fate diversity within neural lineages in both vertebrates and invertebrates, this mechanism of intra-lineage signaling may be conserved (Trylinski, 2017).

Uninflatable and Notch control the targeting of Sara endosomes during asymmetric division

During asymmetric division, fate assignation in daughter cells is mediated by the partition of determinants from the mother. In the fly sensory organ precursor cell, Notch signalling partitions into the pIIa daughter. Notch and its ligand Delta are endocytosed into Sara endosomes in the mother cell and they are first targeted to the central spindle, where they get distributed asymmetrically to finally be dispatched to pIIa. While the processes of endosomal targeting and asymmetry are starting to be understood, the machineries implicated in the final dispatch to pIIa are unknown. This study shows that Sara binds the PP1c phosphatase and its regulator Sds22. Sara phosphorylation on three specific sites functions as a switch for the dispatch: if not phosphorylated, endosomes are targeted to the spindle and upon phosphorylation of Sara, endosomes detach from the spindle during pIIa targeting (Loubery, 2017).

Asymmetric cell division plays many roles in development. In particular, stem cells divide asymmetrically to self-renew while also forming differentiated cells. Asymmetric cell division involves the specific partitioning of cell fate determinants (RNA, proteins or organelles) in one of the two sibling daughter cells. The Sensory Organ Precursor cells (SOPs) of the Drosophila notum are a model system of choice to unravel the molecular mechanisms of asymmetric cell division (Loubery, 2017).

The division of each SOP gives rise to a pIIa and a pIIb daughter cell and, after two more rounds of asymmetric cell divisions, to the four cells of the sensory organ: the outer cells (shaft and socket) are progeny of the pIIa, while the pIIb forms the inner cells (sheath and neuron) and a glial cell that rapidly undergoes apoptosis. The Notch signalling pathway controls cell fate determination in this system: a signalling bias between the pIIa-pIIb sibling cells is essential to obtain a correct lineage (Loubery, 2017).

The asymmetric dispatch of cell fate determinants during SOP division is governed by the polarity of the dividing cell. The Par complex (composed by the aPKC, Par-3 and Par-6 proteins) is the master regulator of the establishment of this polarity. Downstream the Par complex, Notch signalling is regulated by endocytosis and endosomal trafficking through four independent mechanisms: (1) The E3 Ubiquitin ligase Neuralized is segregated to the pIIb cell, where it induces the endocytosis and thereby the activation of the Notch ligand Delta; (2) Recycling endosomes accumulate in the perinuclear region of the pIIb cell, in which they enhance the recycling and activation of Delta; (3) The endocytic proteins α-adaptin and Numb are segregated to the pIIb cell, where they inhibit the Notch activator Sanpodo; (4) During SOP mitosis, Sara endosomes transport a signalling pool of Notch and Delta to the pIIa cell, where Notch can be activated. Asymmetric Sara endosomes have also been shown to operate in the larval neural stem cells (Coumailleau, 2009) as well as in the adult intestinal stem cells in flies, where they also play a role during asymmetric Notch signalling. In fish, Sara endosomes mediate asymmetric cell fate assignation mediated by Notch during the mitosis of neural precursor of the spinal cord (Loubery, 2017).

Sara endosomes are a subpopulation of Rab5-positive early endosomes characterised by the presence of the endocytic protein Sara. Sara directly binds the lipid phosphatidyl-inositol-3-phosphate and both molecules are found at the surface of these endosomes. A pulse-chase antibody uptake assay has been established to monitor the trafficking of endogenous internalised Notch and Delta and showed that both Notch and Delta traffic through Sara endosomes. Furthermore, it was shown that Sara endosomes are specifically targeted to the pIIa cell during SOP division, mediating thus the transport of a pool of Notch and Delta that contribute to the activation of Notch in the pIIa. The Notch cargo and its Uninflatable binding partner are required for this asymmetric dispatch. Targeting of Sara endosomes to the central spindle is mediated by a plus-end-directed kinesin, Klp98A. The asymmetric distribution of endosomes at the central spindle results from a higher density of microtubules in pIIb with their plus ends pointed towards pIIa15 (Loubery, 2017).

This study shows that the Sara protein itself controls both the targeting and the final dispatch of Sara endosomes to the pIIa daughter cell. Sara binds and is a target of the PP1 phosphatase complex. The phosphorylation state of Sara functions as a switch that enables the targeting of Sara endosomes to the central spindle of the dividing SOP, and their subsequent detachment from the central spindle, which is necessary to allow their movement to the pIIa daughter cell (Loubery, 2017).

Previous work has shown that a subpopulation of Rab5 early endosomes positive for Sara are asymmetrically dispatched into the pIIa daughter cell during cytokinesis of the SOP. This was monitored by following in vivo either GFP-Sara or internalized Delta or Notch, which reach the Sara endosomes 20 min after their endocytosis in the mother cell. These vesicles were termed iDelta20' endosomes. In contrast, the pools of Notch in endosomal populations upstream or downstream of the Sara endosomes (that is, the Rab5 early endosomes with low Sara levels and the Rab7 late endosomes, respectively) were segregated symmetrically. Rab5 endosomes show different levels of Sara signal: by a progressive targeting of Sara to the Rab5 endosomes, Rab5 early endosomes mature into Sara endosomes. This prompts the question whether the levels of Sara in endosomes correlate indeed with their asymmetric behaviour (Loubery, 2017).

To study the relationship between the levels of Sara in endosomes and their targeting to the spindle, Matlab codes were written to perform automatic 3D-tracking of the Sara endosomes. Sara endosomes were detected by monitoring a GFP-Sara fusion, which was overexpressed through the UAS/Gal4 system. This way, the position of the endosomes, their displacement towards and away from the central spindle was monitored as well as the levels of Sara. In addition, the position was detected automatically of the Pon cortical crescent, which forecasts the side of the cell that will become the pIIb cell (Loubery, 2017).

The localization of endosomes was studied with respect to a 2 μm-wide box centered in the central spindle during SOP mitosis. The enrichment was measured of endosomes in this central spindle as a function of time. Two phases were observed in the movement of the endosomes during mitosis: (1) targeting to the central spindle and (2) departure into the pIIa cell. The endosomes are progressively accumulating in the central spindle area from the end of metaphase (~450 s before abscission) through anaphase and during cytokinesis until they are enriched at the central spindle by about 10-fold at 250 s before abscission (Loubery, 2017).

Subsequently, the endosomes depart from the central spindle area into the pIIa cell. By fitting an exponential decay to the profile of abundance of the endosomes at the central spindle, the characteristic residence time of the endosomes at the central spindle was measured after the recruitment phase: after recruitment, endosomes remain at the central spindle 98±9.8 s before they depart into one of the daughter cells, preferentially the pIIa cell (Loubery, 2017).

To address a potential role of Sara on central spindle targeting and asymmetric segregation, the behaviour was tracked and quantified of the endosomes in a Sara loss of function mutant (Sara12) and in conditions of Sara overexpression in the SOP (Neur-Gal4; UAS-GFP-Sara). In Sara12 SOPs, targeting of iDelta20' endosomes to the cleavage plane is severely impaired. Consistent with the fact that the asymmetric dispatch of endosomes to pIIa requires first their targeting to the central spindle as previously shown, in Sara12 SOPs the dispatch to the pIIa daughter is strongly affected. A slight bias (60% pIIa targeting) is, however, retained in the mutant, consistent with a previous report (Loubery, 2017).

Conversely, overexpression of Sara increases targeting to the central spindle. In these conditions, Sara is found not only in Rab5 endosomes, but also in Rab7 late endosomes as well as in the Rab4 recycling endosomes. Correlating with this, Rab4, Rab5 and Rab7 endosomes, which are not all recruited to the central spindle in wild-type conditions, are now targeted to the central spindle upon Sara overexpression and are asymmetrically targeted (Loubery, 2017).

Furthermore, consistent with the correlation that is observed between the levels of Sara at the endosomes and their displacement towards the cleavage plane, quantification of central spindle targeting of the Sara endosomes upon its overexpression shows that targeting of the endosomes to the cleavage plane is increased by a factor of 2.5 in these conditions. These observations indicate that Sara plays a crucial role on the targeting of the endosomes to the spindle and the subsequent dispatch of the Notch/Delta containing endosomes to pIIa. Does this play a role during Notch-dependent asymmetric cell fate assignation? (Loubery, 2017).

Sara function contributes to cell fate assignation through asymmetric Notch signalling, but this activity is redundantly covered by Neuralized. Neuralized E3 Ubiquitin ligase does play an essential role during the endocytosis and activation of the Notch ligand Delta. Therefore, during larval development, Neuralized is essential for Notch-mediated lateral inhibition in the proneural clusters, which leads to the singling-out of SOP cells from the proneural clusters. Later, during pupal development, Neuralized appears as a cortical crescent in the pIIb side of the dividing SOPs, thereby biasing Delta activation in the pIIb cell and asymmetric activation of Notch in pIIa6 (Loubery, 2017).

Consistently, a partial loss of function of Neuralized by RNAi interference in the centre of the notum (Pnr>NeurRNAi Control) showed lateral inhibition defects in the proneural clusters, causing the appearance of supernumerary SOPs as well as asymmetric Notch signalling defects in the SOP lineage, leading to supernumerary neurons and loss of the external shaft/socket cells in the lineage. The remaining Neuralized activity in this partial loss of function condition allows many sensory organs (more than forty in the centre of the notum) to perform asymmetric cell fate assignation and to develop, as in wild type, into structures containing at least the two external cells (Loubery, 2017).

In Pnr>NeurRNAi, Sara12/Df(2R)48 transheterozygote mutants, the number of supernumerary SOPs is increased by 35% with respect to the Pnr>NeurRNAi controls (668±38 versus 498±52). This indicates that during lateral inhibition, Sara endosomes contributes to Notch signalling. This general role of Sara is uncovered when the Neuralized activity during Notch signalling is compromised (Loubery, 2017).

In the case of Neuralized, its localization to the anterior cortex biases Notch signalling to be elicited in the pIIa cell. This is the same in the case of Sara endosomes: asymmetric dispatch of Sara endosomes also biases Notch signalling to pIIa10. Indeed, in Pnr>NeurRNAi, Sara12/Df(2R)48 transheterozygote mutants, the number of bristles (external shaft/socket cells) in the notum is strongly reduced at the expense of supernumerary neurons compared to the Pnr>NeurRNAi controls. This indicates that Notch-dependent asymmetric cell fate assignation in the SOP lineage is synergistically affected in the Sara/Neuralized mutant. This implies that the SOP lineages which still could generate bristles with lower levels of Neuralized function in Pnr>NeurRNAi need Sara function to perform asymmetric cell fate assignation: in Pnr>NeurRNAi, Sara12/Df(2R)48 and Pnr>NeurRNAi, Sara12/Sara1 transheterozygote mutants, these lineages failed to perform asymmetric signalling, causing the notum to be largely bald. Therefore, Sara contributes to Notch signalling and asymmetric cell fate assignation, as observed in conditions in which other redundant systems for asymmetric Notch signalling are compromised (Loubery, 2017).

Both Neuralized and Sara play general roles in Notch signalling: they are both involved in lateral inhibition at early stages and, at later stages, in asymmetric cell fate assignation. Indeed, both Neuralized and Sara mutants show early defects in lateral inhibition and, accordingly, they show supernumerary SOPs. In addition, Neuralized and Sara mutant conditions also show defective Notch signalling during cell fate assignation in the SOP lineage and therefore cause the transformation of the cells in the lineage into neurons. In this later step, Notch signalling is asymmetric. The possibility that both Sara and Neuralized play key roles in ensuring the asymmetric nature of this signalling event is only correlative: in the case of Neuralized, it is enriched in the anterior cortex of the cell, which will give rise to pIIb; in the case of Sara, (1) both Delta and Notch are cargo of these endosomes, (2) cleaved Notch is seen in the pIIa endosomes and (3) Sara endosomes are dispatched asymmetrically to pIIa10. It is tantalizing to conclude that the asymmetric localization of these two proteins mediate the asymmetric nature of Notch signalling in the SOP lineage, but further assays will be necessary to unambiguously address this issue. Clonal analysis is unfortunately a too slow assay to sort out the specific requirement of these cytosolic factors (Sara and Neuralized) in the pIIa versus the pIIb cell (Loubery, 2017).

Sara mediates the targeting of Notch/Delta containing endosomes to the central spindle and could contributes to Notch-mediated asymmetric signalling in the SOP lineage. What machinery controls in turn the Sara-dependent targeting of endosomes to the central spindle? Previous proteomic studies uncovered bona fide Sara-binding factors, including the Activin pathway R-Smad, Smox17 and the beta subunit of the PP1c serine-threonine phosphatase (PP1β(9C)). In an IP/Mass Spectrometry approach, those interactions were confirmed and in addition to PP1β(9C), two of the other three Drosophila isoforms of PP1c: PP1α(87B) and PP1α(96A) were found. Furthermore, the PP1c regulatory subunit Sds22 was found, suggesting that Sara binds the full serine-threonine PP1 phosphatase complex. The interaction with Sds22 was confirmed by immunoprecipitation of overexpressed Sds22-GFP and western blot detection of endogenous Sara in the immunoprecipitate (Loubery, 2017).

Prompted by these results, whether the PP1 complex plays a role in the asymmetric targeting of the Sara endosomes was explored by manipulating the activity of Sds22, the common regulatory unit in all the complexes containing the different PP1 isoforms. Sds22 was overexpressed specifically during SOP mitosis, by driving Sds22-GFP under the Neur-Gal4 driver with temporal control by the Gal80ts system. In SOPs where PP1-dependent dephosphorylation is enhanced by overexpressing Sds22, the Sara endosomes fail to be dispatched asymmetrically toward the pIIa daughter cell (Loubery, 2017).

The role of PP1-dependent dephosphorylation in the SOP was examined by knocking down Sds22 (through a validated Sds22-RNAi). Loss of function Sds22 did also affect the asymmetric targeting of endosomes. These data uncover a key role for phosphorylation and PP1-dependent dephosphorylation as a switch that contributes to the asymmetric targeting of Sara during asymmetric cell division (Loubery, 2017).

The observations raise the question of which is the step in the asymmetric dispatch of the endosomes that is controlled by the levels of phosphorylation: central spindle targeting, central spindle detachment or targeting to the pIIa cell? PP1/Sds22-dependent dephosphorylation controls a plethora of mitotic events, including mitotic spindle morphogenesis, cortical relaxation in anaphase, epithelial polarity and cell shape, Aurora B activity and kinetochore-microtubule interactions as well as metabolism, protein synthesis, ion pumps and channels. Therefore, to establish the specific event during the asymmetric dispatch of Sara endosomes that is controlled by PP1/Sds22 dephosphorylation, focus was placed on the phosphorylation state of Sara itself and its previously identified phosphorylation sites. This allowed specific interference with this phosphorylation event and thereby untangle it from other cellular events also affected by dephosphorylation (Loubery, 2017).

PP1/Sds22 was shown to bind Sara. It has previously been shown that mammalian Sara itself is phosphorylated at multiple sites and that the level of this Sara phosphorylation is independent on the level of TGF-beta signalling. Three phosphorylation sites have been identified at position S636, at position S709, and at position S774 in Sara protein and these sites were confirmed by Mass Spectrometry of larval tissue expressing GFP-Sara. Phosphorylation of Sara had been previously reported to be implicated in BMP signalling during wing development. However, the role of these three phosphorylation sites during asymmetric division are to date unknown (Loubery, 2017).

ProQ-Diamond phospho-staining of immunoprecipitated GFP-Sara confirmed that Sara is phosphorylated. To test whether PP1/Sds22 controls the phosphorylation state of Sara, ProQ-Diamond stainings of GFP-Sara were performed with and without down-regulation of Sds22. Downregulating Sds22 induced a 40%-increase in the normalized quantity of phosphorylated Sara, showing that PP1/Sds22 does control the phosphorylation state of Sara (Loubery, 2017).

To study the role of Sara phosphorylation during asymmetric targeting of the endosomes, the mitotic behaviour of the endosomes was analyzed in conditions of overexpression of mutant versions of Sara where (1) the three phosphorylated Serines (at position S636, S709, and S774) were substituted by Alanine (phosphorylation defective: GFP-Sara3A) or (2) the PP1 interaction was abolished by an F678A missense mutation in the PP1 binding domain (hyper-phosphorylated: GFP-SaraF678A). Neither mutation affects the general levels of abundance of the Sara protein in SOPs, the targeting of Sara itself to the endosomes, nor the residence time of Sara in endosomes as determined by FRAP experiments. Also, the targeting dynamics of internalized Delta to endosomes are not affected in these mutants (Loubery, 2017).

Upon overexpression of GFP-Sara3A in SOPs, the rate of targeting of the endosomes to the central spindle is greatly increased. In addition, GFP-Sara3A shows impaired departure from the spindle: while the residence time of Sara endosomes at the central spindle after their recruitment is around 100 s in wild type, GFP-Sara3A endosomes stay at the spindle significantly longer (151±21 s). In GFP-Sara3A endosomes, impaired departure leads to defective asymmetric targeting to the pIIa cell while, in wild type, departure from the central spindle occurs well before abscission, in the GFP-Sara3A condition, endosomes that did not depart are caught at the spindle while abscission occurs. These data indicate that the endosomal targeting to the central spindle is greatly favoured when these three sites in Sara are dephosphorylated and suggest that the departure from the microtubules of the central spindle requires that the endosomes are disengaged by phosphorylation of Sara (Loubery, 2017).

Loss of Sara phosphorylation in these sites impairs disengagement from the central spindle. Conversely, impairing Sara binding to the PP1 phosphatase results in defective targeting to the central spindle. Indeed, when binding of Sara to the PP1/Sds22 phosphatase is impaired in the GFP-SaraF678A overexpressing SOP mutants, Sara endosomes fail to be targeted to the spindle. Mistargeted away from the central spindle, the GFP-SaraF678A endosomes fail thereby to be asymmetrically targeted to the pIIa cell. Loss and gain of function phenotypes of the Phosphatase regulator Sds22 during endosomal spindle targeting support the role of Sara phosphorylation during targeting to the central spindle microtubules suggested by the GFP-Sara3A and GFP-SaraF678A experiments (Loubery, 2017).

What are the functional consequences on signalling of impaired phosphorylation/dephosphorylation in Sara mutants? The presence of Sara in endosomes is itself essential for Notch signalling. Sara loss of function mutants show a phenotype in SOP specification (supernumerary SOPs) as well as during fate determination within the SOP lineage (all cells in the lineage acquire a neural fate). In addition, this study showed that Sara is also essential for the targeting of endosomes to the spindle: in the absence of Sara, endosomes fail to move to the spindle in the SOP. They are therefore dispatched symmetrically, but those endosomes do not mediate Notch signalling. As a consequence, both daughters fail to perform Notch signalling in sensitized conditions in which Neuralized is compromised. The result is a Notch loss of function phenotype: the whole lineage differentiates into neurons (Loubery, 2017).

In both Sara3A and SaraF678A mutants, because of reasons that are different in the two cases (either they do not go to the spindle or their departure from the spindle is impaired), functional Sara endosomes are dispatched symmetrically (Fig. 6a,b,e). In contrast to the situation in the Sara loss of function mutant, those endosomes are functional Sara signalling endosomes, which can mediate Notch signalling in both cells. Therefore, these mutations are consistently shown to cause a gain of function Sara signalling phenotype: supernumerary sockets are seen in the lineages (88% of the lineages for Sara3A and 82% of the lineages for SaraF678A). A milder version of this phenotype can be also seen by overexpressing wild-type Sara (34% of the lineages) consistent again with some gain of function Notch signalling phenotype when Sara concentrations are elevated. In summary, this implies that the 3A and F678A mutations impair the phosphorylation state of Sara (with consequences in targeting), but not its function in Notch signalling (Loubery, 2017).

These results indicate that Sara itself plays a key, rate limiting role on the asymmetric targeting of the endosomes by controlling the targeting to the spindle and its departure. Maturation of the early endosomes by accumulating PI(3)P leads to accumulation of the PI(3)P-binding protein Sara to this vesicular compartment. At the endosome, the phosphorylation state of Sara indeed determines central spindle targeting and departure: in its default, dephosphorylated state, Sara is essential to engage the endosomes with the mitotic spindle. Phosphorylation of Sara disengages the endosomes from the central spindle allowing the asymmetric departure into the pIIa cell (Loubery, 2017).

The retromer complex safeguards against neural progenitor-derived tumorigenesis by regulating notch receptor trafficking

The correct establishment and maintenance of unidirectional Notch signaling are critical for the homeostasis of various stem cell lineages. However, the molecular mechanisms that prevent cell-autonomous ectopic Notch signaling activation and deleterious cell fate decisions remain unclear. This study shows that the retromer complex (see Drosophila Vps35) directly and specifically regulates Notch receptor retrograde trafficking in Drosophila neuroblast lineages to ensure the unidirectional Notch signaling from neural progenitors to neuroblasts. Notch polyubiquitination mediated by E3 ubiquitin ligase Itch/Su(dx) is inherently inefficient within neural progenitors, relying on retromer-mediated trafficking to avoid aberrant endosomal accumulation of Notch and cell-autonomous signaling activation. Upon retromer dysfunction, hypo-ubiquitinated Notch accumulates in Rab7(+) enlarged endosomes, where it is ectopically processed and activated in a ligand-dependent manner, causing progenitor-originated tumorigenesis. These results therefore unveil a safeguard mechanism whereby retromer retrieves potentially harmful Notch receptors in a timely manner to prevent aberrant Notch activation-induced neural progenitor dedifferentiation and brain tumor formation (Li, 2018).

Unidirectional Notch signaling is a widely used strategy for initiating and maintaining binary cell fates. However, the molecular mechanisms establishing the unidirectionality of Notch signaling in stem cell lineages remain unclear. This study shows that, while asymmetric partition of Numb leads to a biased internalization of the Notch receptor and hence asymmetric dampening of Notch signaling in neural progenitors, it meanwhile poses a high risk of non-canonical endosomal activation of Notch. The retromer complex was found to be the key protein trafficking machinery that resolves this crisis through a timely retrieval of the Notch receptor from its endosomal activation compartments. Upon retromer dysfunction, neural progenitors dedifferentiate into neural stem cell-like status and result in the formation of transplantable tumors. Therefore, retromer acts as a tumor suppressor in Drosophila larval brains. Importantly, mammalian Vps35 physically interacts with Notch, colocalizes with Notch in neural progenitors, and its neuroblast-lineage-specific expression fully rescues neural progenitor-derived brain tumor phenotype in vps35 mutants. Thus, the brain tumor suppressor function of retromer is likely to be conserved in mammals. Intriguingly, downregulation of the retromer complex components has been reported in various human cancers, including glioblastoma. These studies thus provide a new mechanistic link between the retromer complex and carcinogenesis (Li, 2018).

Why the E3 ubiquitin ligase system promoting Notch receptor polyubiquitination and degradation is inherently inefficient in neuroblast lineages? It is speculated that Notch is probably not the only substrate of Su(dx) and Ndfip in neuroblasts or neural progenitors. Therefore, high levels and/or activity of this E3 ubiquitin ligase system above certain threshold may potentially cause imbalanced homeostasis of its critical substrates and hence perturbed neuroblast lineages. Indeed, co-overexpression of Su(dx) and Ndfip led to drastically reduced number of neuroblast lineages and severe tissue atrophy. In this case, a relatively general yet inefficient ubiquitination-degradation system coupled with a highly efficient and selective cargo retrieving system provides a customized regulation of the Notch receptor, ensuring sufficient dampening of Notch signaling in neural progenitors without devastating side effects (Li, 2018).

Intriguingly, previous studies posited that retromer dysfunction causes increased levels of APP (β-amyloid precursor protein) to reside in the endosomes for longer duration than normal, resulting in accelerated processing of APP into amyloid-β, a neurotoxic fragment implicated AD pathogenesis. Furthermore, retromer maintains the integrity of photoreceptors by avoiding persistent accumulation of rhodopsin in endolysosomal compartments that stresses photoreceptors and causes their degeneration. Taken together with this study, these findings indicate that retromer serves as bomb squad to retrieve and disarm harmful or toxic protein fragments from endosomes in a timely manner and thereby safeguard the integrity and fitness of the neuronal lineages (Li, 2018).

How is the Notch receptor ectopically activated in retromer mutants? The idea is favored that Notch is activated in MVBs in a ligand-dependent, cell-autonomous manner, distinct from the majority of non-canonical Notch activation mechanisms. Most of the endosomal Notch activation events identified before, including ectopic Notch signaling activation in ESCRT mutants, BLOS2 mutants, or Rme8 and Vps26 double knockdown background, as well as Hif-alpha-dependent activation of Notch signaling implicated in crystal cell maintenance and survival, are all ligand-independent. It has been proposed that the proteases within the acidifying environment of MVB lumen are sufficient to remove the extracellular domain of Notch, leading to the S3 cleavage of Notch at the limiting membrane. Strongly supporting this notion, blocking the entry of Notch into the ESCRT pathway but not ligand inactivation potently inhibited ectopic Notch activation induced by ESCRT mutations. In sharp contrast to these previously-revealed mechanisms, attenuating ligand activity but not preventing Notch from entering the ESCRT pathway effectively rescues Notch overactivation phenotype caused by retromer dysfunction. Then how Notch signaling is ectopically activated in a ligand-dependent manner in retromer mutants? It is speculated that, upon retromer dysfunction, both Notch and Delta are entrapped in MVBs, where Notch and Delta are presented by limiting membrane and intravesicular membrane respectively and result in ligand-dependent Notch processing and activation, resembling the scenario presented for ligand-dependent Notch signaling activation in Sara endosome. The detailed regulatory mechanisms underlying Notch overactivation in retromer mutants warrants future investigation (Li, 2018).

The ability of vps35 mutant neoplastic neuroblasts to metastasize upon transplantation is intriguing. Metastasis of brain tumor cells derived from neuroblast lineages has never been observed in the developing fly larval brains, likely because the limited time window of fly larval development precludes tumor progression and metastasis. Transplantation assay, however, provides the ectopic microenvironment and allows cancer progression in a much longer time scale (months, or even years upon retransplantation). Importantly, mutations that caused metastasis of fly brain tumor cells upon transplantation have also been implicated in various human cancers. Future studies on the transcriptional profiling of the distal metastatic colonies and stepwise characterization of this long-range metastatic process promise to provide fresh mechanistic insights into the enormously complex process of cancer metastasis (Li, 2018).

Patterning mechanisms diversify neuroepithelial domains in the Drosophila optic placode

The central nervous system develops from monolayered neuroepithelial sheets. In a first step patterning mechanisms subdivide the seemingly uniform epithelia into domains allowing an increase of neuronal diversity in a tightly controlled spatial and temporal manner. In Drosophila, neuroepithelial patterning of the embryonic optic placode gives rise to the larval eye primordium, consisting of two photoreceptor (PR) precursor types (primary and secondary), as well as the optic lobe primordium, which during larval and pupal stages develops into the prominent optic ganglia. This study characterize a genetic network that regulates the balance between larval eye and optic lobe precursors, as well as between primary and secondary PR precursors. In a first step the proneural factor Atonal (Ato) specifies larval eye precursors, while the orphan nuclear receptor Tailless (Tll) is crucial for the specification of optic lobe precursors. The Hedgehog and Notch signaling pathways act upstream of Ato and Tll to coordinate neural precursor specification in a timely manner. The correct spatial placement of the boundary between Ato and Tll in turn is required to control the precise number of primary and secondary PR precursors. In a second step, Notch signaling also controls a binary cell fate decision, thus, acts at the top of a cascade of transcription factor interactions to define photoreceptor subtype identity. This model serves as an example of how combinatorial action of cell extrinsic and cell intrinsic factors control neural tissue patterning (Mishra, 2018).

In the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, all parts of the visual system develop from an optic placode, which forms in the dorsolateral region of the embryonic head ectoderm. During embryogenesis, neuroepithelial cells of the optic placode are patterned to form two subdomains. The ventroposterior domain gives rise to the primordium of the larval eye and consists of two photoreceptor (PR) precursor types (primary and secondary precursors), whereas the dorsal domain harbors neuroepithelial precursors that generate the optic lobe of the adult visual system. The basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor Atonal (Ato) promotes PR precursor cell fate in the larval eye primordium. The orphan nuclear receptor Tailless (Tll) is confined to the optic lobe primordium and maintains non-PR cell fate. Hedgehog (Hh) and Notch (N) signaling are critical during the early phase of optic lobe patterning. The secreted Hh protein is required for the specification of various neuronal and non-neuronal cell types, while Notch acts as neurogenic factor preventing ectodermal cells from becoming neuronal precursors by a process termed lateral inhibition. In the optic placode Ato expression is promoted by Hh and the retinal determination genes sine oculis (so) and eyes absent (eya). Notch delimits the number of PR precursors and maintains a pool of non-PR precursors. Ato is initially expressed in all PR precursors in the placode and its expression gets progressively restricted to primary precursors. In a second step, primary precursors recruit secondary precursors via EGFR signaling: primary precursors express the EGFR ligand Spitz, which is required in secondary precursors to promote their survival. After this initial specification of primary and secondary PR precursors, the transcription factors Senseless (Sens), Spalt (Sal), Seven-up (Svp) and Orthodenticle (Otd) coordinate PR subtype specification. Sens and Spalt are expressed in primary PR precursors, while Svp contributes to the differentiation of secondary PR precursors. By the end of embryogenesis, primary PR precursors have fully differentiated into blue-tuned Rhodopsin5 PRs (Rh5), while secondary PR precursors have differentiated into green-tuned Rhodopsin6 PRs (Rh6). While the functional genetic interactions of transcription factors controlling PR subtype specification has been thoroughly studied, it remains unknown how the placode is initially patterned by the interplay of Hh and Notch signaling pathways. Similarly, the mechanisms of how ato and tll-expressing domains are set up to ensure the correct number of primary and secondary PR precursors as well as non-PR precursors of the optic lobe primordium remain unknown (Mishra, 2018).

This study describes the genetic mechanism of neuroepithelial patterning and acquisition of PR versus non-PR cell fate in the embryonic optic placode and provide the link to subsequent PR subtype identity specification. The non-overlapping expression patterns of ato and tll in the optic placode specifically mark domains giving rise to the larval eye precursors (marked by Ato) and the optic lobe primordium (marked by Tll). ato expression in the larval eye primordium is temporally dynamic and can be subdivided into an early ato expression domain, including all presumptive PR precursors and a late ato domain, restricted to presumptive primary PR precursors. The ato expression domain directly forms a boundary adjacent to tll expressing precursors of the optic lobe primordium. tll is both necessary and sufficient to delimit primary PR precursors by regulating ato expression. Hh signaling regulates the cell number in the optic placode and controls PR subtype specification in an ato- and sens-dependent manner. Finally, this study also shows that Notch has two temporally distinct roles in larval eye development. Initially, Notch represses ato expression by promoting tll expression and later, Notch controls the binary cell fate decision of primary versus secondary PR precursors by repressing sens expression. In summary, this study has identified a network of genetic interactions between cell-intrinsic and cell-extrinsic developmental cues patterning neuroepithelial cells of the optic placode and ensuring the timely specification of neuronal subtypes during development (Mishra, 2018).

Neurogenic placodes are transient structures that are formed by epithelial thickenings of the embryonic ectoderm and give rise to most neurons and other components of the sensory nervous system. In vertebrates, cranial placodes form essential components of the sensory organs and generate neuronal diversity in the peripheral nervous system. How neuronal diversity is generated varies from system to system, and different gene regulatory networks have been proposed for each particular type of neuron. Interestingly, some transcription factors, like Atonal, play an evolutionary conserved role during neurogenesis both in Drosophila and in vertebrates (Mishra, 2018).

Neuroepithelial patterning of the Drosophila optic placode exhibits unique segregation of larval eye and optic lobe precursors during embryogenesis. This study has identified genetic mechanisms that control early and late steps in specifying PR versus non-PR cell fate that ensure the expression of precursor cell fate determinants. During germband extension at stage 10, transcriptional regulators (so, eya, ato and tll) show complex and partially overlapping expression patterns in the optic placode. Their interactions with the Notch and Hh signaling pathways define distinct PR and non-PR domains of the larval eye and optic lobe primordium. Intriguingly, the results show a spatial organization of distinct precursor domains, supporting a new model of how the subdivision of precursor domains emerges. In agreement with previous studies initially the entire posterior ventral tip expresses Ato, defining the population of cells that give rise to PR precursors, while neuroepithelial precursors for the presumptive optic lobe are defined by Tll-expression in the anterior domain of the optic placode. Subsequently, Ato expression ceases in the ventral most cells and thus gets restricted to about four primary PR precursors that are located directly adjacent to the Tll expression domain. Hence, a few cell rows are between the primary PR precursors and the ventral most edge of the optic placode. This is in agreement with a recent observation on the transcriptional regulation of ato during larval eye formation. Thus, primary PR precursors are directly adjacent to the Tll-expressing cells while the Ato and Tll negative domain of secondary PR precursors is located at the posterior ventral most tip of the optic placode. Setting the Tll-Ato boundary is critical to define the number of putative secondary PR precursors, which can be recruited into the larval eye, probably via EGFR signaling. A model is proposed during which coordinated action of Hh, Notch and Tll restricts the initially broad expression of Ato to primary PR precursors (see Ato to primary PR precursors). Lack of Tll results in a de-repression of Ato and results in an increased number of primary PR precursors, which in turn recruit secondary PR precursors. Interestingly, while tll mutants show an increase in both primary and secondary PR precursors, the ratio between both subtypes is maintained. This notion further displays similarities of ommatidal formation in the adult eye-antennal imaginal disc, where Ato expressing R8-precursors recruit R1-R6. In the eye-antennal disc, specification of R8-precursors determines the total number of ommatida and therefore also the total number of PRs, the ratio of R8 to outer PRs however always remains the same. Thus, the initial specification of primary PR precursors defines the total number of PRs in the larval eye similarly to R8 PRs, and the ratio of founder versus recruited cells remains constant. Interestingly, the maintenance of primary versus secondary PR precursor ratio is also maintained in ptc mutants further supporting this model (Mishra, 2018).

During photoreceptor development in the eye-antennal imaginal disc hh is expressed in the posterior margin and is required for the initiation and progression of the morphogenetic furrow as well as the regulation of ato expression. During embryogenesis the loss of hh results in a complete loss of the larval eye, while increasing Hh signaling (by means of mutating ptc) generates supernumerary PRs in the larval eye. During early stages, an increase of Ato expression was found in ptc mutants suggesting that similarly to the eye-antennal disc Hh positively regulates ato expression. The observed increase of Ato-expressing cells is not due to a reduction of Tll but is likely due to increased cell proliferation in ptc mutants. Hh also controls proliferation during the formation of the Drosophila compound eye (Mishra, 2018).

During embryonic nervous system development Notch dependent lateral inhibition selects individual neuroectodermal cells to become neuroblasts. Notch represses neuroblast cell fate and promotes ectodermal cell fate. During compound eye development, Notch regulates Ato expression and acts through lateral inhibition to select Ato expressing R8 PR precursors. Similarly, during Drosophila larval eye development, Notch is required for regulating PR cell number by maintaining epithelial cell fate of the optic lobe primordium. Inhibiting Notch signaling leads to a complete transformation of the optic placode to PRs of the larval eye. In the absence of Notch signaling, Ato expression is expanded in the optic placode and as a result the total number of PRs is increased. Despite the increase of the overall PR-number the number of secondary PR precursors is significantly decreased or lost in the absence of Notch activity. In the compound eye Notch promotes R7 cell fate by repressing the R8-specific transcription factor Sens. It was also proposed that genetic interaction between Notch and Sens is required for sensory organ precursor (SOP) selection in the proneural field in a spatio-temporal manner. This study found that during PR subtype specification Notch represses Sens expression, thereby controlling the binary cell fate decision of primary versus secondary PR precursors. Therefore, in the absence of Notch signaling, Sens expression represses the secondary PR precursor fate. As a result, all PR precursors are transformed and acquire primary PR precursor identity. In conclusion, this study observed that Notch is essential for two aspects during optic placode patterning. First, Notch activity is critical for balancing neuroepithelial versus PR cell fate mediated through Tll-regulated Ato expression. Second, Notch regulates the binary cell fate decision of primary versus secondary PR precursor cell fate through the regulation of Sens expression (Mishra, 2018).


GENE STRUCTURE

cDNA clone length - 10.4kb There are other transcripts or splice variants lacking the first 5 exons. There appears to be a variant maternal transcript (Kidd, 1986).

Bases in 5' UTR - 799

Exons - nine

Bases in 3' UTR - 1262


PROTEIN STRUCTURE

Amino Acids - 2703

Structural Domains

There are two regions of high hydrophobicity, an N-terminal signal sequence and a transmembrane segment between residues 1745 and 1767. There is an epidermal growth factor domain repeated 36 times, each domain consisting of approximately 38 amino acids (Kidd, 1986).

The Drosophila Notch (N) gene encodes a conserved single-pass transmembrane receptor that transduces extracellular signals controlling cell fate. Evidence has been found that the intracellular domain of Notch gains access to the nucleus in response to ligand, possibly through a mechanism involving proteolytic cleavage and release from the remainder of the protein. These results suggest that signal transduction by Notch depends on the ability of the intracellular domain, particularly the portion containing the CDC10 repeats, to reach the nucleus and to participate in the transcriptional activation of downstream target genes (Struhl, 1998).

A sensitive approach was used to detect the physical presence of intracellular portions of Notch in the nucleus. The chimeric transcription factor Gal4-VP16 (GV) was inserted at various positions in otherwise wild-type Notch protein and the resulting N+-GV proteins expressed under heatshock control in embryos that also carry a UAS-lacZ transgene. The Gal4-VP16 protein contains the DNA-binding domain of the yeast Gal4 transcription factor coupled to the transcriptional activation domain of the viral VP15 protein. The UAS-lacZ gene contains copies of the UAS-binding site for Gal4 and is transcribed in response to Gal4 as well as the Gal4-VP16 protein. It was reasoned that expression of the UAS-lacZ gene would provide a sensitive assay for nuclear access of the inserted Gal4-VP16 domain and hence for events that lead to nuclear import of the Notch intracellular domain (Struhl, 1998).

Gal4-VP16 domains inserted in the intracellular domain of Notch do indeed have access to the nucleus, as judged by their ability to activate UAS-lacZ transcription. Access of a specific insertion positioned just C-terminal to the Notch transmembrane domain is ligand-dependent and correlates with Notch signal-transducing activity. A minimal fragment of the Notch intracellular domain was defined containing the CDC10 repeats that have intrinsic transducing activity. This intrinsinc transducing activity depends on its having access to the nucleus. Addition of sequences that permit or target this polypeptide to accumulate in the nucleus retain transducing activity, whereas sequences that target this polypeptide to extranuclear membranes block the activity. The presence of the VP16 activator domain renders the protein constitutively active, provided that it is inserted at a position that allows it to gain access to the nucleus irrespective of ligand. Adding repressor motifs from either Engrailed or Hairy blocks the signal-transducing activity of the resulting Notch proteins. It is suggested that the only limited step in the mechanism of signal transduction by Notch is the proposed ligand-dependent cleavage event that releases the intracellular domain from the membrane and allows it to enter into the nucleus. Notch signal transduction also appears to depend on several proteins that associate physically with the Notch intracellular domain, such as Su(H), Dishevelled, Deltex, and Numb, as well as other proteins such as Mastermind and Hairless (Struhl, 1998).


Notch continued: Evolutionary Homologs | Regulation | Protein Interactions | Post-transcriptional regulation of Notch mRNA | Developmental Biology | Effects of Mutation | References
date revised: 5 February 2000 

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