Sculpting a body plan requires both patterning of gene expression and translating that pattern into morphogenesis. Developmental biologists have made remarkable strides in understanding gene expression patterning, but despite a long history of fascination with the mechanics of morphogenesis, knowledge of how patterned gene expression drives the emergence of even simple shapes and forms has grown at a slower pace. The successful merging of approaches from cell biology, developmental biology, imaging, engineering, and mathematical and computational sciences is now accelerating progress toward a fuller and better integrated understanding of the forces shaping morphogenesis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The atypical cadherin Fat acts as a receptor for a signaling pathway that regulates growth, gene expression, and planar cell polarity. Genetic studies in Drosophila identified the four-jointed gene as a regulator of Fat signaling. We show that four-jointed encodes a protein kinase that phosphorylates serine or threonine residues within extracellular cadherin domains of Fat and its transmembrane ligand, Dachsous. Four-jointed functions in the Golgi and is the first molecularly defined kinase that phosphorylates protein domains destined to be extracellular. An acidic sequence motif (Asp-Asn-Glu) within Four-jointed was essential for its kinase activity in vitro and for its biological activity in vivo. Our results indicate that Four-jointed regulates Fat signaling by phosphorylating cadherin domains of Fat and Dachsous as they transit through the Golgi.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We investigated the forces that connect the genetic program of development to morphogenesis in Drosophila. We focused on dorsal closure, a powerful model system for development and wound healing. We found that the bulk of progress
toward closure is driven by contractility in supracellular “purse strings” and in the amnioserosa, whereas adhesion-mediated
zipping coordinates the forces produced by the purse strings and is essential only for the end stages. We applied quantitative
modeling to show that these forces, generated in distinct cells, are coordinated in space and synchronized in time. Modeling
of wild-type and mutant phenotypes is predictive; although closure in myospheroid mutants ultimately fails when the cell sheets rip themselves apart, our analysis indicates that βPS integrin has an earlier, important role in zipping.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Planar polarity is evident in the coordinated orientation of ommatidia in the Drosophila eye. This process requires that the R3 photoreceptor precursor of each ommatidium have a higher level of Frizzled signaling than its neighboring R4 precursor. We show that two cadherin superfamily members, Fat and Dachsous, and the transmembrane/secreted protein Four-jointed play important roles in this process. Our data support a model in which the bias of Frizzled signaling between the R3/R4 precursors results from higher Fat function in the precursor cell closer to the equator, which becomes R3. We also provide evidence that positional information regulating Fat action is provided by graded expression of Dachsous across the eye and the action of Four-jointed, which is expressed in an opposing expression gradient and appears to modulate Dachsous function.
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