A targeted UAS-RNAi screen in Drosophila larvae identifies wound closure genes regulating distinct cellular processes

Genetics. 2010 Nov;186(3):943-57. doi: 10.1534/genetics.110.121822. Epub 2010 Sep 2.


Robust mechanisms for tissue repair are critical for survival of multicellular organisms. Efficient cutaneous wound repair requires the migration of cells at the wound edge and farther back within the epidermal sheet, but the genes that control and coordinate these migrations remain obscure. This is in part because a systematic screening approach for in vivo identification and classification of postembryonic wound closure genes has yet to be developed. Here, we performed a proof-of-principle reporter-based in vivo RNAi screen in the Drosophila melanogaster larval epidermis to identify genes required for normal wound closure. Among the candidate genes tested were kinases and transcriptional mediators of the Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) signaling pathway shown to be required for epithelial sheet migration during development. Also targeted were genes involved in actin cytoskeletal remodeling. Importantly, RNAi knockdown of both canonical and noncanonical members of the JNK pathway caused open wounds, as did several genes involved in actin cytoskeletal remodeling. Our analysis of JNK pathway components reveals redundancy among the upstream activating kinases and distinct roles for the downstream transcription factors DJun and DFos. Quantitative and qualitative morphological classification of the open wound phenotypes and evaluation of JNK activation suggest that multiple cellular processes are required in the migrating epidermal cells, including functions specific to cells at the wound edge and others specific to cells farther back within the epidermal sheet. Together, our results identify a new set of conserved wound closure genes, determine putative functional roles for these genes within the migrating epidermal sheet, and provide a template for a broader in vivo RNAi screen to discover the full complement of genes required for wound closure during larval epidermal wound healing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cytoskeleton / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / cytology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / enzymology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Epidermis / metabolism
  • Epidermis / pathology
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Targeting*
  • Genes, Insect / genetics
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Genetic Testing*
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Larva / cytology
  • Larva / enzymology
  • Larva / genetics
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / genetics
  • Models, Biological
  • RNA Interference*
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid / genetics*
  • Time Factors
  • Transgenes / genetics
  • Wound Healing / genetics*


  • Actins
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases