MAPK Target Sites of Eyes Absent Are Not Required for Eye Development or Survival in Drosophila
ABSTRACT Eyes absent (Eya) is a highly conserved transcription cofactor and protein phosphatase that plays an essential role in eye development and survival in Drosophila. Ectopic eye induction assays using cDNA transgenes have suggested that mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) activates Eya by phosphorylating it on two consensus target sites, S402 and S407, and that this activation potentiates the ability of Eya to drive eye formation. However, this mechanism has never been tested in normal eye development. In the current study, we generated a series of genomic rescue transgenes to investigate how loss- and gain-of-function mutations at these two MAPK target sites within Eya affect Drosophila survival and normal eye formation: eya(+)GR, the wild-type control; eya(SA)GR, which lacks phosphorylation at the two target residues; and eya(SDE)GR, which contains phosphomimetic amino acids at the same two residues. Contrary to the previous studies in ectopic eye development, all eya genomic transgenes tested rescue both eye formation and survival equally effectively. We conclude that, in contrast to ectopic eye formation, MAPK-mediated phosphorylation of Eya on S402 and S407 does not play a role in normal development. This is the first study in Drosophila to evaluate the difference in outcomes between genomic rescue and ectopic cDNA-based overexpression of the same gene. These findings indicate similar genomic rescue strategies may prove useful for re-evaluating other long-standing Drosophila developmental models.
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ABSTRACT: In Drosophila, development of the compound eye is orchestrated by a network of highly conserved transcriptional regulators known as the retinal determination (RD) network. The retinal determination gene eyes absent (eya) is expressed in most cells within the developing eye field, from undifferentiated retinal progenitors to photoreceptor cells whose differentiation begins at the morphogenetic furrow (MF). Loss of eya expression leads to an early block in retinal development, making it impossible to study the role of eya expression during later steps of retinal differentiation. We have identified two new regulatory regions that control eya expression during retinal development. These two enhancers are necessary to maintain eya expression anterior to the MF (eya-IAM) and in photoreceptors (eya-PSE), respectively. We find that deleting these enhancers affects developmental events anterior to the MF as well as retinal differentiation posterior to the MF. In line with previous results, we find that reducing eya expression anterior to the MF affects several early steps during early retinal differentiation, including cell cycle arrest and expression of the proneural gene ato. Consistent with previous observations that suggest a role for eya in cell proliferation during early development we find that deletion of eya-IAM leads to a marked reduction in the size of the adult retinal field. On the other hand, deletion of eya-PSE leads to defects in cone and pigment cell development. In addition we find that eya expression is necessary to activate expression of the cone cell marker Cut and to regulate levels of the Hedgehog pathway effector Ci. In summary, our study uncovers novel aspects of eya-mediated regulation of eye development. The genetic tools generated in this study will allow for a detailed study of how the RD network regulates key steps in eye formation.PLoS ONE 07/2014; 9(7):e102143. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0102143 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Eyes absent (Eya) is an evolutionarily conserved transcriptional coactivator and protein phosphatase that regulates multiple developmental processes throughout the metazoans. Drosophila eya is necessary for survival as well as for the formation of the adult eye. Eya contains a tyrosine phosphatase domain, and mutations altering presumptive active-site residues lead to strongly reduced activities in ectopic eye induction, in vivo genetic rescue using the Gal4-UAS system, and in vitro phosphatase assays. However, these mutations have not been analyzed during normal development with the correct levels, timing, and patterns of endogenous eya expression. To investigate whether the tyrosine phosphatase activity of Eya plays a role in Drosophila survival or normal eye formation, we generated three eya genomic rescue (eyaGR) constructs that alter key active-site residues and tested them in vivo. In striking contrast to previous studies, all eyaGR constructs fully restore eye formation as well as viability in an eya null mutant background. We conclude that the tyrosine phosphatase activity of Eya is not required for normal eye development or survival in Drosophila. Our study suggests the need for a re-evaluation of the mechanism of Eya action and underscores the importance of studying genes in their native context.PLoS ONE 03/2013; 8(3):e58818. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0058818 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Organ development is directed by selector gene networks. Eye development in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is driven by the highly conserved selector gene network referred to as the "retinal determination gene network," composed of approximately 20 factors, whose core comprises twin of eyeless (toy), eyeless (ey), sine oculis (so), dachshund (dac), and eyes absent (eya). These genes encode transcriptional regulators that are each necessary for normal eye development, and sufficient to direct ectopic eye development when misexpressed. While it is well documented that the downstream genes so, eya, and dac are necessary not only during early growth and determination stages but also during the differentiation phase of retinal development, it remains unknown how the retinal determination gene network terminates its functions in determination and begins to promote differentiation. Here, we identify a switch in the regulation of ey by the downstream retinal determination genes, which is essential for the transition from determination to differentiation. We found that central to the transition is a switch from positive regulation of ey transcription to negative regulation and that both types of regulation require so. Our results suggest a model in which the retinal determination gene network is rewired to end the growth and determination stage of eye development and trigger terminal differentiation. We conclude that changes in the regulatory relationships among members of the retinal determination gene network are a driving force for key transitions in retinal development.PLoS Genetics 08/2013; 9(8):e1003731. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003731 · 8.17 Impact Factor