MK2-dependent p38b Signalling Protects Drosophila Hindgut Enterocytes Against JNK-induced Apoptosis Under Chronic Stress

PLoS Genet. 2011 Aug;7(8):e1002168. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002168. Epub 2011 Aug 4.

Abstract

The integrity of the intestinal epithelium is crucial for the barrier function of the gut. Replenishment of the gut epithelium by intestinal stem cells contributes to gut homeostasis, but how the differentiated enterocytes are protected against stressors is less well understood. Here we use the Drosophila larval hindgut as a model system in which damaged enterocytes are not replaced by stem cell descendants. By performing a thorough genetic analysis, we demonstrate that a signalling complex consisting of p38b and MK2 forms a branch of SAPK signalling that is required in the larval hindgut to prevent stress-dependent damage to the enterocytes. Impaired p38b/MK2 signalling leads to apoptosis of the enterocytes and a subsequent loss of hindgut epithelial integrity, as manifested by the deterioration of the overlaying muscle layer. Damaged hindguts show increased JNK activity, and removing upstream activators of JNK suppresses the loss of hindgut homeostasis. Thus, the p38/MK2 complex ensures homeostasis of the hindgut epithelium by counteracting JNK-mediated apoptosis of the enterocytes upon chronic stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis* / genetics
  • Drosophila / enzymology*
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Enterocytes / enzymology*
  • Female
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System* / genetics
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 11 / metabolism
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Binding / genetics
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Stress, Physiological*

Substances

  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • MAP-kinase-activated kinase 2
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 11