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Curr Biol. 2000 Apr 20;10(8):459-62.

Nitric oxide interacts with the retinoblastoma pathway to control eye development in Drosophila.

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Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York, 11724, USA.


Animal organ development requires that tissue patterning and differentiation is tightly coordinated with cell multiplication and cell cycle progression. Several variations of the cell cycle program are used by Drosophila cells at different stages during development [1] [2]. In imaginal discs of developing larvae, cell cycle progression is controlled by a modified version of the well-characterized mammalian retinoblastoma (Rb) pathway [3] [4], which integrates signals from multiple effectors ranging from growth factors and receptors to small signaling molecules. Nitric oxide (NO), a multifunctional second messenger [5], can reversibly suppress DNA synthesis and cell division [6] [7]. In developing flies, the antiproliferative action of NO is essential for regulating the balance between cell proliferation and differentiation and, ultimately, the shape and size of adult structures in the fly [8] [9] [10]. The mechanisms of the antiproliferative activity of NO in developing organisms are not known, however. We used transgenic flies expressing the Drosophila nitric oxide synthase gene (dNOS1) and/or genes encoding components of the cell cycle regulatory pathways (the Rb-like protein RBF and the E2F transcription factor complex components dE2F and dDP) combined with NOS inhibitors to address this issue. We found that manipulations of endogenous or transgenic NOS activity during imaginal disc development can enhance or suppress the effects of RBF and E2F on development of the eye. Our data suggest a role for NO in the developing imaginal eye disc via interaction with the Rb pathway.

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