ACK family tyrosine kinase may participate in the control of dorsal closure through negative regulation of Egfr

The Rho family of small GTPases in the fruit fly Drosophila are key controllers of cell shape and cell movement through their participation in signalling networks that control a variety of cellular processes. These proteins function as molecular “switches”, turning on or off the particular steps in the signal pathways to control cell shape or cell movement. The study of these molecules provides us with important medical insight since disturbance of their signalling has been implicated in a variety of disorders including cancer and a number of inherited conditions, such as mental retardation, deafness and facial deformities. These proteins have also been shown to be key regulators in wound healing. The activated Cdc42 kinases (ACKs) are proteins shown to be effectors for the Rho GTPases Cdc42, and are linked to the regulation of Drosophila Dorsal Closure (DC). DC is a well-known animal model system for studying wound healing. Previous studies have demonstrated Drosophila activated Cdc42 kinase (DACK) functions in controlling cell shape change and movement of epidermal cells during DC. Weiping Shen is using the DC as a model system to assemble signalling networks controlling the movement and shape of cells. The learning gained from these signalling pathways will shed light on their roles in human development and disease. By developing a better understanding of the mechanisms that allow signals to translate into physical movements, this research could lead ultimately to solving many genetic and developmental puzzles related to human diseases.