In the Drosophila embryo the nuclear localisation of Dorsal, a member of the Rel family, is regulated by an extracellular signal, which is transmitted to the interior of the egg cell by a cascade of proteins involving the novel protein Tube and the protein kinase Pelle. Here we analyse the activation mechanism of Tube and Pelle and the interaction between these two components. We show that both proteins, although having different biochemical activities, are activated by the same mechanism. Membrane association alone is not sufficient, but oligomerisation is required for full activation of Tube and Pelle. By deletion analysis we determined the domains of Tube and Pelle mediating the physical interaction and the signalling to downstream components. In order to investigate the link between Pelle and the target of the signalling cascade, the Dorsal/Cactus complex, we isolated and characterised the novel, but evolutionary conserved protein Pellino, which associates with the kinase domain of Pelle.