Drosophila heat shock response requires the JNK pathway and phosphorylation of mixed lineage kinase at a conserved serine-proline motif

PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e42369. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0042369. Epub 2012 Jul 27.


Defining context specific requirements for proteins and pathways is a major challenge in the study of signal transduction. For example, the stress-activated protein kinase (SAPK) pathways are comprised of families of closely related transducers that are activated in a variety of tissues and contexts during development and organismal homeostasis. Consequently, redundant and pleiotropic effects have hampered a complete understanding of the individual contributions of transducers in distinct contexts. Here, we report on the function of a context-specific regulatory phosphorylation site, PXSP, in the Drosophila mixed lineage kinase protein, Slpr, a mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase (MAP3K) in the Jun Kinase (JNK) pathway. Genetic analysis of the function of non-phosphorylatable (PXAP) and phosphomimetic mutant (PXEP) Slpr transgenes in several distinct contexts revealed minimal effects in JNK-dependent tissue closure processes but differential requirements in heat stress response. In particular, PXAP expression resulted in sensitivity of adults to sustained heat shock, like p38 and JNK pathway mutants. In contrast, PXEP overexpression conferred some resistance. Indeed, phosphorylation of the PXSP motif is enriched under heat shock conditions and requires in part, the p38 kinases for the enrichment. These data suggest that coordination of signaling between p38 and Slpr serves to maintain JNK signaling during heat stress. In sum, we demonstrate a novel role for JNK signaling in the heat shock response in flies and identify a posttranslational modification on Slpr, at a conserved site among MAP3K mixed lineage kinase family members, which bolsters stress resistance with negligible effects on JNK-dependent developmental processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Conserved Sequence*
  • Drosophila Proteins / chemistry*
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / cytology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / enzymology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / cytology
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / metabolism
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / physiology
  • Female
  • Heat-Shock Response*
  • Humans
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Longevity
  • MAP Kinase Kinase Kinases / chemistry*
  • MAP Kinase Kinase Kinases / metabolism*
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phosphorylation
  • Proline
  • Serine


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Serine
  • Proline
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • MAP Kinase Kinase Kinases
  • slpr protein, Drosophila