Drosophila Abelson kinase mediates cell invasion and proliferation through two distinct MAPK pathways.

PMID 20453880


The Abelson (Abl) family of non-receptor tyrosine kinases has an important role in cell morphogenesis, motility, and proliferation. Although the function of Abl has been extensively studied in leukemia, its role in epithelial cell invasion remains obscure. Using the Drosophila wing epithelium as an in vivo model system, we show that overexpression (activation) of Drosophila Abl (dAbl) causes loss of epithelial apical/basal cell polarity and secretion of matrix metalloproteinases, resulting in a cellular invasion and apoptosis. Our in vivo data indicate that dAbl acts downstream of the Src kinases, which are known regulators of cell adhesion and invasion. Downstream of dAbl, Rac GTPases activate two distinct MAPK pathways: c-Jun N-terminal kinase signaling (required for cell invasion and apoptosis) and ERK signaling (inducing cell proliferation). Activated Abl also increases the activity of Src members through a positive feedback loop leading to signal amplification. Thus, targeting Src-Abl, using available dual inhibitors, could be of therapeutic importance in tumor cell metastasis.