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.

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 September 22, 2014 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 September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cat Lovers Flock to Los Angeles

Cat Lovers Flock to Los Angeles

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) The best funny internet cat videos are honoured at LA's Feline Film Festival. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Top 3 Outrageous Animal Stories Of The Week

Top 3 Outrageous Animal Stories Of The Week

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) This week's animal stories include a goldfish having surgery, a pizza chain giving out pets, and a tiger found on the side of the road. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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