Rho1, RhoA, epithelial morphogenesis, TTSP, GPCR, type II transmembrane serine protease, G protein-coupled receptor


Hormonally-triggered regulatory hierarchies play a major role in organismal development. Disruption of a single member of such a hierarchy can lead to irregular development and disease. Therefore, knowledge of the members involved and the mechanisms controlling signaling through such pathways is of great importance in understanding how resulting developmental defects occur. Type II transmembrane serine proteases (TTSPs) make up a family of cell surface-associated proteases that play important roles in the development and homeostasis of a number of mammalian tissues. Aberrant expression of TTSPs is linked to several human disorders, including deafness, heart and respiratory disease and cancer. However, the mechanism by which these proteases function remains unknown. The ecdysone-responsive Stubble TTSP of Drosophila serves as a good model in which to study the functional mechanism of the TTSP family. The Stubble protease interacts with the intracellular Rho1 (RhoA) pathway to control epithelial development in imaginal discs. The Rho1 signaling pathway regulates cellular behavior via control of gene expression and actin cytoskeletal dynamics. However, the mechanism by which the Stubble protease interacts with the Rho1 pathway to control epithelial development, in particular leg imaginal disc morphogenesis, has yet to be elucidated. The Stubble protein consists of several conserved domains. One approach to a better understanding of the mechanism of action of Stubble in regulating Rho1 signaling is to define which of the conserved domains within the protease are required for proper function. Sequence analysis of twelve recessive Stubble mutant alleles has revealed that the proteolytic domain is essential for proper function. Alleles containing mutations which disrupt regions of the protease domain necessary for protease activation or substrate binding, as well as those with deletions or truncations that remove some portion of the proteolytic domain, result in defective epithelial development in vivo. In contrast, mutations in other regions of the Stubble protein, including the disulfide-knotted and cytoplasmic domains, were not observed. Another important step for defining the connection between Stubble and Rho1 signaling is to identify a Stubble target that acts as an upstream regulator of the Rho1 pathway. We performed a genetic screen in which 97 of the 147 Drosophila non-olfactory and non-gustatory G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), a family of proteins that has been shown to be protease-activated and to activate Rho1 signaling, were tested for interactions with a mutant allele of Stubble. We found 4 genomic regions uncovering a total of 7 GPCRs that interact genetically when in heterozygous combination with a Stubble mutant. Further analysis of these genes is necessary to determine if any of these GPCRs is targeted by Stubble during activation of the Rho1 pathway.


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Graduation Date



von Kalm, Laurence


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program









Release Date

September 2008

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)

Included in

Biology Commons