Research ArticleDevelopmental Biology

The scaffolding protein Cnk binds to the receptor tyrosine kinase Alk to promote visceral founder cell specification in Drosophila

See allHide authors and affiliations

Sci. Signal.  24 Oct 2017:
Vol. 10, Issue 502, eaan0804
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aan0804

Identifying downstream components of Alk

Aberrant activation of the receptor tyrosine kinase ALK contributes to the progression of several human cancers. In developing Drosophila larvae, Alk and its ligand Jeb are critical for the specification of visceral muscle founder cells. Wolfstetter et al. found that the scaffolding protein Cnk interacted with Alk and was required for Alk signaling in the visceral mesoderm of this model organism. In addition, the Cnk binding partner Ave promoted the function of Cnk in this pathway. Mutants deficient in Cnk or Ave or overexpressing the Alk binding region of Cnk (which would be expected to disrupt the interaction between Alk and Cnk) lacked founder cells and failed to develop functional gut musculature. Together, these results identify components downstream of Alk. Future studies are necessary to determine whether human homologs of Cnk also participate in ALK signaling.