Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tuning In On Cellular Communication In The Fruit Fly

Date:
March 1, 2009
Source:
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Summary:
In their ongoing study of the processes involved in embryonic development in fruit flies, researchers have identified the function of a protein that sticks out of the embryonic cell membrane like an antenna and processes signals needed for the flies' wings to develop properly.

 In their ongoing study of the processes involved in embryonic development in fruit flies, researchers at WPI's Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park have identified the function of a protein that sticks out of the embryonic cell membrane like an antenna and processes signals needed for the flies' wings to develop properly.

Related Articles


After fertilization, cells must send and receive signals that instruct them how and when to specialize and build all the tissues that comprise the adult organism. This requires a complex system of communication, both within each cell and among cells. The WPI team focused on one portion of that network known as the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) pathway, in the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster).

"The BMP pathway is very important for embryonic development, not only in fruit flies, but in vertebrates as well," said Joseph Duffy, PhD., associate professor of biology and biotechnology at WPI and lead author of the paper. "What we've identified is a new component of that pathway."

A cellular pathway is like a series of links in a chain that transmit signals to prompt specific actions within a cell. The BMP pathway directs the development of many tissue types in animals, including muscles, bones and the nervous system. In fruit flies, the pathway sends the signals that direct proper wing formation.

Many links along the BMP pathway within a cell are well-characterized, but how the pathway works from one cell to another as the embryo develops is less clear. In the current study, Duffy's team focused on a protein called Kekkon5 (Kek5), which extends through the cell membrane, much like an antenna extends from a mobile phone to send and receive signals. Duffy's team found that when they disrupted the Kek5 protein in developing fruit flies their wings would not grow properly. Conversely, when Duffy's team engineered fruit fly cells to have too many copies of Kek5, the wings grew with defects. "It was pretty clear that Kek5 was regulating the BMP pathway, and that was an exciting observation," Duffy said.

The recent work on Kek5 follows earlier studies in the Duffy lab that revealed a related protein, Kek1, regulates the Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) pathway, which is another important developmental pathway. Problems with the BMP and EGF pathways are implicated in cancer, bone disorders, heart disease, and neurodegenerative diseases. Developing compounds that can regulate or repair these pathways is an active area of therapeutic research.

By exploring the role of Keks and related proteins in fruit flies and other model systems, Duffy hopes to glean new knowledge that may, one day, have an impact on human health. "The fruit fly is an excellent model system to study basic biologic processes," Duffy said. "Then, as we understand how these proteins function in the fly, we can use that knowledge to help us explore similar processes in humans."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Evans et al. Kekkon5 is an extracellular regulator of BMP signaling. Developmental Biology, 2009; 326 (1): 36 DOI: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2008.10.002

Cite This Page:

Worcester Polytechnic Institute. "Tuning In On Cellular Communication In The Fruit Fly." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090218135049.htm>.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute. (2009, March 1). Tuning In On Cellular Communication In The Fruit Fly. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 5, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090218135049.htm
Worcester Polytechnic Institute. "Tuning In On Cellular Communication In The Fruit Fly." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090218135049.htm (accessed March 5, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Praying Mantis Looks Long Before It Leaps

Praying Mantis Looks Long Before It Leaps

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) — Slowed-down footage of the leaps of praying mantises show the insect&apos;s extraordinary precision, say researchers. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Octopus Grabs Camera and Turns It Around On Photographer

Octopus Grabs Camera and Turns It Around On Photographer

Buzz60 (Mar. 5, 2015) — A photographer got the shot of a lifetime, or rather an octopus did, when it grabbed the camera and turned it around to take an amazing picture of the photographer. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts

Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts

AP (Mar. 5, 2015) — The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is ending its iconic elephant acts. The circus&apos; parent company, Feld Entertainment, told the AP exclusively that the acts will be phased out by 2018 over growing public concern about the animals. (March 5) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) — Once nearly extinct, grey whales now migrate in their thousands to Mexico&apos;s Vizcaino reserve in Baja California, in search of warmer waters to mate and give birth. Tourists flock to the reserve to see the whales, measuring up to 49 feet long. (March 4) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins