The hedgehog (HH) family of ligands plays an important instructional role in metazoan development. HH proteins are initially produced as approximately 45-kDa full-length proteins, which undergo an intramolecular cleavage to generate an amino-terminal product that subsequently becomes cholesterol-modified (HH-Np). It is well accepted that this cholesterol-modified amino-terminal cleavage product is responsible for all HH-dependent signaling events. Contrary to this model we show here that full-length forms of HH proteins are able to traffic to the plasma membrane and participate directly in cell-cell signaling, both in vitro and in vivo. We were also able to rescue a Drosophila eye-specific hh loss of function phenotype by expressing a full-length form of hh that cannot be processed into HH-Np. These results suggest that in some physiological contexts full-length HH proteins may participate directly in HH signaling and that this novel activity of full-length HH may be evolutionarily conserved.
Drosophila olfactory aversive conditioning has served as a powerful model system with which to elucidate the molecular and neuronal mechanisms underlying memory formation. In the typical protocol, flies are exposed to a constant odor stream while receiving a pulsed electric shock in the conditioning tube of a manual apparatus. We have devised a simple, low-cost semi-automated conditioning apparatus that computationally controls the delivery of odor and shock. A semiconductor-based odor sensor is employed to monitor the change of odor concentration in the training tube. The system thus allows electric shocks to be precisely matched with odor concentration in the training tube. We found that short-term memory performance was improved with a pulsed odor flow protocol, in which odor is presented in short pulses, each paired with electric shock, rather than as a constant flow. The effect of pulsed odor flow might be ascribed to the phenomenon of 'conditioned approach', where approach toward an odor is induced when the electric shock is presented before odor pulse ends. Our data shows that the system is applicable to the study of olfactory memory formation and to the examination of conditioning parameters at a level of detail not practical with a manual apparatus.
The Toll signaling pathway is required for the innate immune response against fungi and Gram-positive bacteria in Drosophila. Here we show that the endosomal proteins Myopic (Mop) and Hepatocyte growth factor-regulated tyrosine kinase substrate (Hrs) are required for the activation of the Toll signaling pathway. This requirement is observed in cultured cells and in flies, and epistasis experiments show that the Mop protein functions upstream of the MyD88 adaptor and the Pelle kinase. Mop and Hrs, which are critical components of the ESCRT-0 endocytosis complex, colocalize with the Toll receptor in endosomes. We conclude that endocytosis is required for the activation of the Toll signaling pathway.
The metabolic cycle of Saccharomyces cerevisiae consists of alternating oxidative (respiration) and reductive (glycolysis) energy-yielding reactions. The intracellular concentrations of amino acid precursors generated by these reactions oscillate accordingly, attaining maximal concentration during the middle of their respective yeast metabolic cycle phases. Typically, the amino acids themselves are most abundant at the end of their precursor's phase. We show that this metabolic cycling has likely biased the amino acid composition of proteins across the S. cerevisiae genome. In particular, we observed that the metabolic source of amino acids is the single most important source of variation in the amino acid compositions of functionally related proteins and that this signal appears only in (facultative) organisms using both oxidative and reductive metabolism. Periodically expressed proteins are enriched for amino acids generated in the preceding phase of the metabolic cycle. Proteins expressed during the oxidative phase contain more glycolysis-derived amino acids, whereas proteins expressed during the reductive phase contain more respiration-derived amino acids. Rare amino acids (e.g., tryptophan) are greatly overrepresented or underrepresented, relative to the proteomic average, in periodically expressed proteins, whereas common amino acids vary by a few percent. Genome-wide, we infer that 20,000 to 60,000 residues have been modified by this previously unappreciated pressure. This trend is strongest in ancient proteins, suggesting that oscillating endogenous amino acid availability exerted genome-wide selective pressure on protein sequences across evolutionary time.