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Curr Biol. 1999 May 6;9(9):460-9.

An activity of Notch regulates JNK signalling and affects dorsal closure in Drosophila.

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Department of Zoology University of Cambridge Cambridge, CB2 3EJ, UK.



The Drosophila Notch protein is a receptor that controls cell fate during embryonic development, particularly in lateral inhibition, a process that acts on groups of cells that share a particular developmental potential to restrict the number of cells that will adopt that cell fate. The process of lateral inhibition is implemented by the nuclear protein Suppressor of Hairless (Su(H)) and is triggered by the ligand Delta. Recent results have shown that the interaction between Delta and Notch triggers the cleavage of the intracellular domain of Notch which then translocates to the nucleus and binds to Su(H).


We find that Notch plays a role in the patterning of the dorsal epidermis of the Drosophila embryo and that this function of Notch is independent of Su(H), requires Notch at the plasma membrane and targets the c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) signalling pathway. Notch mutants show high levels of JNK activity and can rescue the effects of lowered JNK signalling resulting from mutations in the hemipterous and basket genes. Two regions of the intracellular domain of Notch are involved: the Cdc10/ankyrin repeats, which downregulate signalling through the JNK pathway, and a region carboxy-terminal to these repeats, which regulates this negative function.


Our results reveal a novel signalling activity of Notch that does not require its cleavage and acts by modulating signalling through the JNK pathway. In the Drosophila embryo, this activity plays an important role in the morphogenetic movements that drive dorsal closure.

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