Journal of cell science

Impairment of ubiquitylation by mutation in Drosophila E1 promotes both cell-autonomous and non-cell-autonomous Ras-ERK activation in vivo.

PMID 19366732


Ras signaling can promote proliferation, cell survival and differentiation. Mutations in components of the Ras pathway are found in many solid tumors and are associated with developmental disorders. We demonstrate here that Drosophila tissues containing hypomorphic mutations in E1, the most upstream enzyme in the ubiquitin pathway, display cell-autonomous upregulation of Ras-ERK activity and Ras-dependent ectopic proliferation. Ubiquitylation is widely accepted to regulate receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) endocytosis upstream of Ras. However, although the ectopic proliferation of E1 hypomorphs is dramatically suppressed by removing one copy of Ras, removal of the more upstream components Egfr, Grb2 or sos shows no suppression. Thus, decreased ubiquitylation may lead to growth-relevant Ras-ERK activation by failing to regulate a step downstream of RTK endocytosis. We further demonstrate that Drosophila Ras is ubiquitylated. Our findings suggest that Ras ubiquitylation restricts growth and proliferation in vivo. We also report our intriguing observation that complete inactivation of E1 causes non-autonomous activation of Ras-ERK in adjacent tissue, mimicking oncogenic Ras overexpression. We demonstrate that maintaining sufficient E1 function is required both cell autonomously and non-cell autonomously to prevent inappropriate Ras-ERK-dependent growth and proliferation in vivo and may implicate loss of Ras ubiquitylation in developmental disorders and cancer.