Rel-family transcription factors function in a variety of biological processes, including development and immunity. During early Drosophila development, the Toll-Cactus-Dorsal pathway regulates the establishment of the embryonic dorsoventral axis. The last step in this pathway is the graded nuclear import of the Rel protein Dorsal. Dorsal is retained in the cytoplasm by the IκB-family protein Cactus. Phosphorylation of both Dorsal and Cactus is regulated by a Toll-receptor-dependent ventral signal relayed by the Tube and Pelle proteins. Phosphorylation of Cactus leads to its degradation and to the release of Dorsal to form a ventral-to-dorsal nuclear Dorsal gradient. To understand how the ventral signal regulates the nuclear import and activity of Dorsal, we deleted its conserved nuclear localization signal (NLS). The truncated protein remained in the cytoplasm and could antagonize the function of wild-type Dorsal, suggesting that Dorsal forms a dimer in the cytoplasm. Further, the nuclear import of a mutant Dorsal protein that failed to interact with Cactus was still regulated by the ventral signal. Our results are consistent with a model in which ventral signal-dependent modification of both Cactus and Dorsal is required for the graded nuclear import of Dorsal.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)