Navigation Links
Tuning in on cellular communication in the fruit fly

WORCESTER, Mass. 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) and reported their findings in the paper "Kekkon5 is an extracellular regulator of BMP signaling," published in the Feb. 1, 2009, edition of the journal Developmental Biology. (Dev Biol. 2009 Feb 1; 326(1):36-46.)

"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."


Contact: Michael Cohen
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Related biology news :

1. Fine-tuning lasers to destroy blood-borne diseases like AIDS
2. Bioengineers at University of Pennsylvania devise nanoscale system to measure cellular forces
3. Boston College profs study oxidative stress subcellular to discover its role in diseases
4. Studying component parts of living cells with carbon nanotube cellular probes
5. Story ideas from Molecular & Cellular Proteomics
6. Anthrax cellular entry point uncovered
7. Genome of marine organism tells of humans unicellular ancestors
8. Researchers discover critical detail of cellular defense against genetic mistakes
9. LIAI researchers discover new cellular mechanism that will significantly advance vaccine development
10. Cellular self-eating promotes pancreatitis
11. A new cellular pathway linked to cancer is identified by NYU researchers
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/26/2015)... ALTO, Calif. and LAS VEGAS ... Nok Nok Labs , an innovator in modern ... Alliance , today announced the launch of its latest ... first unified platform enabling organizations to use standards-based authentication ... The Nok Nok S3 Authentication Suite is ideal for ...
(Date:10/23/2015)... Research and Markets ( ) has announced the ... 2015-2019" report to their offering. ... recognition biometrics market to grow at a CAGR of ... --> The report, Global Voice Recognition Biometrics ... market analysis with inputs from industry experts. The report ...
(Date:10/22/2015)... Oct. 22, 2015  Aware, Inc. (NASDAQ: AWRE ), a ... for its third quarter ended September 30, 2015.  ... of 2015 was $4.0 million, a decrease of 33% compared to ... the third quarter of 2015 was $2.2 million, or $0.10 per ... share, in the same period a year ago.  ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. ... IIROC on behalf of the Toronto Stock Exchange, confirms ... there are no corporate developments that would cause the ... --> --> About Aeterna Zentaris ... . --> Aeterna Zentaris is a specialty ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), ... MultiGP, also known as Multirotor Grand Prix, to represent the First–Person View (FPV) racing ... AMA members have embraced this type of racing and several new model aviation pilots ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ: ... the remaining 11,000 post-share consolidation (or 1,100,000 pre-share ... "Series B Warrants") subject to the previously disclosed ... 23, 2015, which will result in the issuance ... to the issuance of such shares, there will ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... Creation Technologies would ... named to Deloitte's 2015 Technology Fast 500 list of the fastest growing companies ... FDA-cleared, Class II medical device that speeds up orthodontic tooth movement by as ...
Breaking Biology Technology: