Signaling by the Drosophila epidermal growth factor receptor pathway during development

Exp Cell Res. 2003 Mar 10;284(1):140-9. doi: 10.1016/s0014-4827(02)00094-0.


In 1997 we wrote a review entitled "A thousand and one roles for the Drosophila epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (DER/EGFR)." We are not there yet in terms of the number of developmental roles assigned to this receptor in Drosophila. Nevertheless, DER has certainly emerged as one of the key players in development, since it is used repeatedly to direct cell fate choices, cell division, cell survival, and migration. A battery of activating ligands and an inhibitory ligand achieves this versatility. For the ligands that are produced as membrane-bound precursors, trafficking and processing are the key regulatory steps, determining the eventual temporal and spatial pattern of receptor activation. In most cases DER is activated at a short range, in the cells adjacent to the ones producing the active ligand. This activation dictates a binary choice. In some instances DER is also activated over a longer range, and multiple cell fate choices may be induced, according to its level of activation. A battery of negative feedback loops assures the limited range of DER induction. The distinct responses to DER activation in the different tissues depend upon combinatorial interactions with other signaling pathways and tissue-specific factors, at the level of target-gene regulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila Proteins / physiology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / metabolism
  • ErbB Receptors / physiology*
  • Feedback, Physiological / physiology
  • Ligands
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Ligands
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • ErbB Receptors