Analysis of the E1-ubiquitin activating enzyme, Uba1, in cell death and tissue growth in Drosophila

Tom Van Lee, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Ubiquitination is an essential process involved in basic biological processes such as the cell cycle and cell death. Ubiquitination is initiated by ubiquitin-activating enzymes (E1), which activate and transfer ubiquitin to ubiquitin-conjugating enzymes (E2). Subsequently, ubiquitin is transferred to target proteins via ubiquitin ligases (E3). Defects in ubiquitin conjugation have been implicated in several forms of malignancy, the pathogenesis of several genetic diseases, immune surveillance/viral pathogenesis, and the pathology of muscle wasting. However, the consequences of partial or complete loss of ubiquitin conjugation in multi-cellular organisms are not well understood. Here, we report the characterization of nba1, the sole E1 in Drosophila. We have determined that weak and strong nba1 alleluias behave genetically different and sometimes in opposing phenotypes. For example, weak uba1 alleluias protect cells from cell death whereas cells containing strong loss-of-function alleluias are highly apoptotic. These opposing phenotypes are due to differing sensitivities of cell death pathway components to ubiquitination level alterations. In addition, strong uba1 alleluias induce cell cycle arrest due to defects in the protein degradation of Cyclins. Surprisingly, clones of strong uba1 mutant alleluias stimulate neighboring wild-type tissue to undergo cell division in a non-autonomous manner resulting in severe overgrowth phenotypes in the mosaic fly. I have determined that the observed overgrowth phenotypes were due to a failure to downregulate the Notch signaling pathway in nba1 mutant cells. Aberrant Notch signaling results in the secretion of a local cytokine and activation of JAK/STAT pathway in neighboring cells. In addition, we elucidated a model describing the regulation of the caspase Dronc in surviving cells. Binding of Dronc by its inhibitor Diap1 is necessary but not sufficient to inhibit Dronc function. Ubiquitin conjugation and Uba1 function is necessary for the negative regulation of Dronc.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Genetics|Cellular biology

Recommended Citation

Lee, Tom Van, "Analysis of the E1-ubiquitin activating enzyme, Uba1, in cell death and tissue growth in Drosophila" (2008). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3322427.