Localized JNK signaling regulates organ size during development

Elife. 2016 Mar 14;5:e11491. doi: 10.7554/eLife.11491.


A fundamental question of biology is what determines organ size. Despite demonstrations that factors within organs determine their sizes, intrinsic size control mechanisms remain elusive. Here we show that Drosophila wing size is regulated by JNK signaling during development. JNK is active in a stripe along the center of developing wings, and modulating JNK signaling within this stripe changes organ size. This JNK stripe influences proliferation in a non-canonical, Jun-independent manner by inhibiting the Hippo pathway. Localized JNK activity is established by Hedgehog signaling, where Ci elevates dTRAF1 expression. As the dTRAF1 homolog, TRAF4, is amplified in numerous cancers, these findings provide a new mechanism for how the Hedgehog pathway could contribute to tumorigenesis, and, more importantly, provides a new strategy for cancer therapies. Finally, modulation of JNK signaling centers in developing antennae and legs changes their sizes, suggesting a more generalizable role for JNK signaling in developmental organ size control.

Keywords: D. melanogaster; Hedgehog; Hippo; JNK; TRAF4; development; developmental biology; size control; stem cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthropod Antennae / embryology
  • Arthropod Antennae / growth & development
  • Drosophila / embryology*
  • Drosophila / metabolism
  • Extremities / embryology
  • Extremities / growth & development
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System*
  • Organogenesis
  • Wings, Animal / embryology*
  • Wings, Animal / growth & development*
  • Wings, Animal / metabolism