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Notch-ing glucose into place
Date:1/27/2008

A novel gene called rumi regulates Notch signaling by adding a glucose molecule to the part of the Notch protein that extends outside a cell, said researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and Stony Brook University in New York in a report that appears today in the journal Cell.

Cellular signaling governed by the Notch protein determines cell fate determination and differentiation.

The complete loss of rumi causes a temperature-dependent defect in Notch signaling, an unusual phenomenon said Dr. Hugo Bellen, professor of molecular and human genetics at BCM and director of the program in developmental biology. He is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

Bellen and his colleagues discovered the genes effect on bristles in the fruit fly. These bristles are external sensory organs that can be easily screened for changes involved in Notch signaling. Indeed, loss of Notch signaling causes loss of these external sensory organs. Fruit flies that lack the rumi protein have a higher than normal density of bristles on the thorax, indicating a subtle loss of Notch activity. However, at 25 degrees C, the bristles are lost, which suggests a severe loss of Notch signaling.

The activity of the Notch receptor needs to be inactivated in one cell to allow it to become different from the other daughter cell, and this process is used reiteratively in many consecutive cell divisions. For example, if Notch is activated inappropriately in cells of the blood lineage, it will cause leukemia in humans, said Bellen.

It is also a key gene to specify neurons in the peripheral and central nervous system, said Bellen. When embryos lack a functional Notch protein, they have far too many neurons. The same phenomenon can be observed in rumi mutant embryos.

In animals with mutated rumi, the Notch protein accumulates in the membrane and fails to become activated. Similarities between rumi and some sugar-modifying
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Contact: Glenna Picton
picton@bcm.edu
713-798-4710
Baylor College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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