During Drosophila development, the Jun N-terminal kinase signal transduction pathway regulates morphogenetic tissue closure movements that involve cell shape changes and reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton. We analyzed the genome-wide transcriptional response to activation of the JNK pathway in the Drosophila embryo by serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE) and identified loci encoding cell adhesion molecules and cytoskeletal regulators as JNK responsive genes. The role of one of the upregulated genes, chickadee (chic), encoding a Drosophila profilin, in embryogenesis was analyzed genetically. chic-deficient embryos fail to execute the JNK-mediated cytoskeletal rearrangements during dorsal closure. This study demonstrates a transcriptional mechanism of cytoskeletal regulation and establishes SAGE as an advantageous approach for genomic experiments in the fruitfly.