Analysis of JAK pathway activation in Drosophila

Grants and Contracts Details


Communication between cells is a vital factor in proper development and maintenance of multicellular organisms. The number of molecules that serve as signals is enormous, yet the mechanisms by which cells can respond to signals are much more restricted. A finite number of signaling pathways have emerged as reutilized intracellular signaling cascades that initiate appropriate cellular responses. The long term objectives of this research are to elucidate mechanisms of cellular communication and to understand how different signals are integrated and interpreted to regulate developmental events. One conserved intracellular cascade that has been found in organisms from slime mold to human is the Janus kinase (JAK) signaling pathway. In vertebrates, JAK signaling is the primary mechanism for response of cells to a wide array of cytokines and growth factors. The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, was chosen to study JAK signaling because it uses the JAK pathway in the same manner as humans, yet is amenable to genetic and developmental manipulation. The only known activator of JAK signaling in Drosophila is the Unpaired (Upd) protein. Previously funded research (IBN-9723944) focused on the molecular and biochemical characterization of upd. The Upd protein bears no recognizable similarity to previously identified mammalian proteins, but is similar to a protein from a closely related fruit fly species, Drosophila ananassae. Both Om(1E) and updgenes are found in both of these Drosophila species. Furthermore, the recent release of the Drosophila genome sequence has identified two additional, less conserved predicted proteins that have homology to Upd. The functions of these three new genes will be investigated, as well as the relationships of these genes to upd and to one another. Understanding of the molecules and mechanisms of JAK pathway activation in Drosophila will likely provide insights into developmental signaling in many multicellular organisms. The primary goals of this research are to: (1) characterize, molecularly, biochemically, and phenotypically, the Drosophila melanogaster Om(1E) gene, (2) determine the functional relationships between Om(1E) and upd, (3) characterize, molecularly and phenotypically, two other proteins with homology to Upd, and (4) identify additional components of JAK signaling and related pathways using genetic screens.
Effective start/end date4/1/013/31/04


  • EPSCOR National Science Fdtn: $330,000.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.