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Development 131 (15): 3605-3614

Rhomboid 3 orchestrates Slit-independent repulsion of tracheal branches at the CNS midline

Marco Gallio1,2,3, Camilla Englund1,4, Per Kylsten3, and Christos Samakovlis1,*

1 Department of Developmental Biology, Wenner-Gren Institute, Stockholm University, S-106 96 Stockholm, Sweden
2 Department of Medical Nutrition, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
3 Department of Natural Sciences, Södertörns Högskola, S-141 04 Huddinge, Sweden
4 Umeå Centre for Molecular Pathogenesis, Umeå University, S-901 87, Umeå, Sweden

* Author for correspondence (e-mail: christos{at}

Accepted for publication 27 April 2004.

Abstract: EGF-receptor ligands act as chemoattractants for migrating epithelial cells during organogenesis and wound healing. We present evidence that Rhomboid 3/EGF signalling, which originates from the midline of the Drosophila ventral nerve cord, repels tracheal ganglionic branches and prevents them from crossing it. rho3 acts independently from the main midline repellent Slit, and originates from a different sub-population of midline cells: the VUM neurons. Expression of dominant-negative Egfr or Ras induces midline crosses, whereas activation of the Egfr or Ras in the leading cell of the ganglionic branch can induce premature turns away from the midline. This suggests that the level of Egfr intracellular signalling, rather than the asymmetric activation of the receptor on the cell surface, is an important determinant in ganglionic branch repulsion. We propose that Egfr activation provides a necessary switch for the interpretation of a yet unknown repellent function of the midline.

Key Words: DrosophilaruEgfr • Epithelial migration • VNC midline

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