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Ward, R.E., Evans, J., Thummel, C.S. (2003). Genetic modifier screens in Drosophila demonstrate a role for Rho1 signaling in ecdysone-triggered imaginal disc morphogenesis.  Genetics 165(3): 1397--1415.
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Drosophila adult leg development provides an ideal model system for characterizing the molecular mechanisms of hormone-triggered morphogenesis. A pulse of the steroid hormone ecdysone at the onset of metamorphosis triggers the rapid transformation of a flat leg imaginal disc into an immature adult leg, largely through coordinated changes in cell shape. In an effort to identify links between the ecdysone signal and the cytoskeletal changes required for leg morphogenesis, we performed two large-scale genetic screens for dominant enhancers of the malformed leg phenotype associated with a mutation in the ecdysone-inducible broad early gene (br1). From a screen of >750 independent deficiency and candidate mutation stocks, we identified 17 loci on the autosomes that interact strongly with br1. In a complementary screen of approximately 112,000 F1 progeny of EMS-treated br1 animals, we recovered 26 mutations that enhance the br1 leg phenotype [E(br) mutations]. Rho1, stubbloid, blistered (DSRF), and cytoplasmic Tropomyosin were identified from these screens as br1-interacting genes. Our findings suggest that ecdysone exerts its effects on leg morphogenesis through a Rho1 signaling cascade, a proposal that is supported by genetic interaction studies between the E(br) mutations and mutations in the Rho1 signaling pathway. In addition, several E(br) mutations produce unexpected defects in midembryonic morphogenetic movements. Coupled with recent evidence implicating ecdysone signaling in these embryonic morphogenetic events, our results suggest that a common ecdysone-dependent, Rho1-mediated regulatory pathway controls morphogenesis during the two major transitions in the life cycle, embryogenesis and metamorphosis.

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PMC1462826 (PMC) (EuropePMC)
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