Antagonistic Feedback Loops Involving Rau and Sprouty in the Drosophila Eye Control Neuronal and Glial Differentiation

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Science Signaling  05 Nov 2013:
Vol. 6, Issue 300, pp. ra96
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2004651

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Loops of Fate in the Fly Eye

The compound eye of the fruit fly comprises repetitive units called ommatidia that are assembled from photoreceptor neurons. Their axon tracks are insulated by wrapping glia. Neuronal differentiation in developing ommatidia is induced by information provided by cell-cell contacts, such as low-intensity activation of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), and is inhibited through negative feedback of RTK signaling by the protein Sprouty. Using genetically manipulated fruit flies, Sieglitz et al. identified Rau, a protein that antagonized the activity of Sprouty in glial progenitors in contact with axons and was associated with higher RTK signaling in photoreceptor cells. By preferentially binding activated Ras, Rau promoted RTK-induced Ras activity, enabling differentiation of wrapping glia and photoreceptor neurons for proper retinal development.

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