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Nature. 1999 Jul 8;400(6740):166-9.

Distortion of proximodistal information causes JNK-dependent apoptosis in Drosophila wing.

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Division of Biological Science, Graduate School of Science, Nagoya University, Japan Science and Technology Corporation.


Distinct and evolutionarily conserved signal-transduction cascades mediate the survival or death of cells during development. The c-Jun amino-terminal kinases (JNKs) of the mitogen-activated protein kinase superfamily are involved in apoptotic signalling in various cultured cells. However, the role of the JNK pathway in development is less well understood. In Drosophila, Decapentaplegic (Dpp; a homologue of transforming growth factor-beta) and Wingless (Wg; a Wnt homologue) proteins are secretory morphogens that act cooperatively to induce formation of the proximodistal axis of appendages. Here we show that either decreased Dpp signalling in the distal wing cells or increased Dpp signalling in the proximal wing cells causes apoptosis. Inappropriate levels of Dpp signalling lead to aberrant morphogenesis in the respective wing zones, and these apoptotic zones are also determined by the strength of the Wg signal. Our results indicate that distortion of the positional information determined by Dpp and Wg signalling gradients leads to activation of the JNK apoptotic pathway, and the consequent induction of cell death thereby maintains normal morphogenesis.

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