Cropped, Drosophila transcription factor AP-4, controls tracheal terminal branching and cell growth

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Endothelial or epithelial cellular branching is vital in development and cancer progression; however, the molecular mechanisms of these processes are not clear. In Drosophila, terminal cell at the end of some tracheal tube ramifies numerous fine branches on the internal organs to supply oxygen. To discover more genes involved in terminal branching, we searched for mutants with very few terminal branches using the Kiss enhancer-trap line collection. RESULTS: In this analysis, we identified cropped (crp), encoding the Drosophila homolog of the transcription activator protein AP-4. Overexpressing the wild-type crp gene or a mutant that lacks the DNA-binding region in either the tracheal tissues or terminal cells led to a loss-of-function phenotype, implying that crp can affect terminal branching. Unexpectedly, the ectopic expression of cropped also led to enlarged organs, and cell-counting experiments on the salivary glands suggest that elevated levels of AP-4 increase cell size and organ size. Like its mammalian counterpart, cropped is controlled by dMyc, as ectopic expression of dMyc in terminal cells increased cellular branching and the Cropped protein levels in vivo. CONCLUSIONS: We find that the branching morphogenesis of terminal cells of the tracheal tubes in Drosophila requires the dMyc-dependent activation of Cropped/AP-4 protein to increase the cell growth of terminal cells.

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Wong, M. M. K., Liu, M. F., & Chiu, S. K. (2015). Cropped, Drosophila transcription factor AP-4, controls tracheal terminal branching and cell growth. BMC Developmental Biology, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12861-015-0069-6

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