Systematic expression and loss-of-function analysis defines spatially restricted requirements for Drosophila RhoGEFs and RhoGAPs in leg morphogenesis

Lina Greenberg, Victor Hatini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The Drosophila leg imaginal disc consists of a peripheral region that contributes to adult body wall, and a central region that forms the leg proper. While the patterning signals and transcription factors that determine the identity of adult structures have been identified, the mechanisms that determine the shape of these structures remain largely unknown. The family of Rho GTPases, which consists of seven members in flies, modulates cell adhesion, actomyosin contractility, protrusive membrane activity, and cell-matrix adhesion to generate mechanical forces that shape adult structures. The Rho GTPases are ubiquitously expressed and it remains unclear how they orchestrate morphogenetic events. The Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factors (RhoGEFs) and Rho GTPase activating proteins (RhoGAPs), which respectively activate and deactivate corresponding Rho GTPases, have been proposed to regulate the activity of Rho signaling cascades in specific spatiotemporal patterns to orchestrate morphogenetic events. Here we identify restricted expression of 12 of the 20 RhoGEFs and 10 of the 22 Rho RhoGAPs encoded in Drosophila during metamorphosis. Expression of a subset of each family of RhoGTPase regulators was restricted to motile cell populations including tendon, muscle, trachea, and peripodial stalk cells. A second subset was restricted either to all presumptive joints or only to presumptive tarsal joints. Depletion of individual RhoGEFs and RhoGAPs in the epithelium of the disc proper identified several joint-specific genes, which act downstream of segmental patterning signals to control epithelial morphogenesis. Our studies provide a framework with which to understand how Rho signaling cascades orchestrate complex morphogenetic events in multi-cellular organisms, and evidence that patterning signals regulate these cascades to control apical constriction and epithelial invagination at presumptive joints.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-17
Number of pages13
JournalMechanisms of Development
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Apical constriction
  • DAP-2
  • Epithelial invagination
  • Epithelial morphogenesis
  • RhoGAP5A
  • RhoGAP68F


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